Galerías Pacífico: Florida Street’s Shopping Mall

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The 1991 debut of Buenos Aires’ downtown shopping mall, Galerías Pacífico, is what saved downtown’s Florida Street from becoming a complete ghost town in the 1990’s.

Galerias Pacifico on Florida St

The opening of the three-floor 180-shop mall was also a financial blow to the already hemorrhaging Harrods Buenos Aires a block away, and in part led to Harrods Buenos Aires department store’s closing in 1998.

Buenos Aires’ Beautiful Downtown Shopping Mall

The beautiful 1889 building on the 700 block of Florida, at Cordoba, was originally modeled after Paris’s most important department store, Le Bon Marché.

Later this was the first location of the National Museum of Fine Arts, and then home to the British Pacific Railway administration office, from which it derives its name.

Central dome of Galerias Pacifico shopping mall

In 1945, the building’s huge central dome was constructed.

The Beaux Arts style frescoes by artists Antonio Berni, Lino Spilimbergo, Manuel Colmeiro, Demetrio Urruchúa and Juan Carlos Castagnino are some of the most celebrated in Buenos Aires.

In 1989, one hundred years after its opening, the building was declared a national historic monument.

Shortly after, it was reopened as downtown’s premier shopping mall, artists Rómulo Macció, Josefina Robirosa, Guillermo Roux and Carlos Alonso added an additional four frescoes.

Manifestacion (Manifestation) painting by Antonio Berni

➡ Those who love the work of Antonio Berni at Galerías Pacífico, shouldn’t miss a visit to the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Shopping & Eating at Galerías Pacífico

For visitors it’s definitely worth taking a spin around the mall to admire the elegant building, although as with most shopping malls, the merchandise is not particularly unique.

Those with kids in tow may find Galerías Pacífico’s clean bathrooms utilitarian while exploring downtown.

The busy food court has a lot of options ranging including Asian stir-fry joints, classic grilled meat restaurants, standard fast food, and artisanal ice cream that is hard to pass up.

El Amor mural by Antonio Berni in Galerias Pacifico Buenos Aires
The mural ‘El Amor’ in Galerías Pacifico.

The mall is home to international brands such as Tommy Hillfiger, Lacome, and Chanel.

(Other brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior and Hugo Boss have ceased to operate in the mall due to importation difficulties in Argentina.)

The prices rival those in Europe or the U.S., but at least shoppers can get a refund on the 21% VAT tax (although it’s preferable to foreigners to use cash these days).

A few high-end local brands such as polo outfitter, La Martina, and Lopez Taibo, for leather shoes and accessories, may be of more interest to visitors.

Buenos Aires’ Downtown Shopping Mall’s Dark History

Behind the designer glitz of Galerías Pacífico, is a darker, spookier past that few tour guides mention.

Author Naomi Klein describes in her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in 1987 a documentary crew discovered the literal writing on the wall — names and messages left by former prisoners who were presumed to be tortured in the building’s depths during the 1976-1983 military rule of Argentina.

Centro Cultural Borges

Even though Galerías Pacífico is a high-end shopping mall, culture vultures will not want to miss Galerías Pacífico because of the Centro Cultural Borges (Jorge Borges Cultural Center) on the premises.

The 10.000 m2 (107,000 ft²) cultural arts center has a constant rotation of international art exhibitions and events.

Here you can find reasonably priced, high-quality tango shows, free indie film screenings and Argentine folk music performances.

←cont. from: Harrods Buenos Aires and the Decline of Florida Street

→ cont. reading: The Naval Center—A Beaux Arts Gem on Florida Street

Galerías Pacífico
Florida 753
Tel: 5555-5110

• Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 10am—9 pm
Sun 12 pm until 9 pm

Centro Cultural Borges
Viamonte 525
Tel: 5555-5358/9

• Hours: same as Galerías Pacífico