In the 1980s, architects Clorindo Testa, Jacques Bedel, and Luis Benedit turned the 18th-century Franciscan convent alongside the Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Pilar into a cultural center with multiple exhibition halls and an auditorium that’s one of the most important sites for late summer’s Festival Buenos Aires Tango. They added the Plaza del Pilar, a stylish arcade housing the upscale Buenos Aires Design shopping mall and a gaggle of sidewalk restaurants and cafés.
Interestingly enough, immediately after independence, General Manuel Belgrano established an art school on the site. Thereafter, though, it served as a beggars prison until Torcuato de Alvear cleaned it up in the 1880s; Italian architect Juan Buschiazzo turned the chapel into an auditorium and transformed adjacent walls and terraces into an Italianate style. Until its 1980s remodel, it served as a retirement home.
The Centro Cultural Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Junín 1930, tel. 011/4803-1040, www.centroculturalrecoleta.org ) is open 2–9 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m.–9 p.m. weekends and holidays. Admission is free except for the Museo Participativo and for some film programs.