is located at the corner of Rivadavia and Medrano avenues in the Barrio Almagro, one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires. The denomination of the area comes from the last name of one of the main landowners of the region.
In the first half of the 19th Century, vast sections of land in the outskirts of the city were owned by Don Juan María de Almagro y de la Torre
, a lawyer from Galicia, Spain, who came to Buenos Aires in 1786 as Legal Counsel and War Auditor at the service of the Spanish Crown.
In the course of his official duties shifty Juan María managed to accumulate large tracts of land by devious negotiations which brought him a questionable repute, though not enough to get his name removed from the history of the development of this part of the city. After his death in 1843, most of the land was portioned and became occupied by dairy farms and brick factories. The neighbourhood became established when a rural tramway was introduced, the San Carlos Parish
church was erected in 1878, and Basques and Italian immigrants settled in the area.
coffee house, opened in September of 1884 and soon became a meeting place for tango musicians and workers of the nearby Abasto
Market. The economic prosperity of the city in the last decades of the 19th century and the elegant atmosphere of the place soon attracted artists, couples on romantic encounters, business people and politicians who came to Las Violetas
by carriage or tramway from all neighbourhoods of the expanding city. Around 1920 the coffee shop was decorated with French stained glass windows, curved glass doors, Italian marble floors, chandeliers with teardrops, bronze ornaments, and elegant classical tables with Carrara marble tops.
In the period of 1976 to 1983, during the Argentine military dictatorship, the members of the human rights organization known as the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo
would secretly gather at Las Violetas
pretending to celebrate birthdays, to discuss and find ways to recover their kidnapped and disappeared grandchildren
In 1998, much to the chagrin of old and new patrons, Las Violetas
Coffee Shop and Patisserie closed. The Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires declared the building a “Historic Site of the City". For three years the prestigious store remained closed and abandoned and many thought it has been lost forever. However, between January and July of 2001 the building and coffee shop were fully and carefully restored and, with new owners, the legendary coffee shop opened its doors again.
For the past 10 years the comeback of Las Violetas
has been celebrated by the residents of Buenos Aires and by Argentine and international travellers who come to the large capital city "of the Fair Winds" and make certain to include this renowned establishment in their itinerary.
This reporter had the opportunity to pay a visit to this charming spot of Barrio Almagro and enjoy English Tea with fine pastries and other sweet specialties amongst the delightful stained glass windows and splendid surroundings.