Located in the San Telmo neighborhood, with an irregular layout, it rests on one of the natural ravines that the city still preserves, the historic Lezama Park. This site, where the Park is located, was, according to some historians, the site where Adelantado Don Pedro de Mendoza founded the first settlement on these lands, in February 1536.
Limited by Brasil, Paseo Colón, Martín García and Defensa Street avenues, the site that in those years was only land and river, came a long way to become one of the most emblematic green spaces in Buenos Aires.
It was previously known as "El Bajo de la Residencia", "La punta de Doña Catalina" (which designated the southern end of the city, the north was "El Retiro") and the "Barranca de Marcó". This sector housed the first brick kiln, the first windmill, warehouses to store merchandise and, also, the barracks of the "Royal Company of the Philippines", dedicated to the slave trade.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the area began to become popular as a vacation spot, so many aristocratic families acquired land and built the first "quintas" to spend the summer. With this idea, after successive sales, the property that included the park land was acquired at public auction by the English merchant Daniel Mackinlay, who built a house on the "Barranca de Marcó", created an orchard and planted fruit trees in the area. which would be their resting place on the outskirts of the city. The "Quinta de los Ingleses", as the people of Buenos Aires called it, continued to be known as this when it was already owned by Charles Ridgley Horne, an American, brother-in-law of General Juan Lavalle.
Mr. Horne bought some neighboring land, expanded the park and built a much more distinguished mansion. From the old railings you could glimpse the river. It was characterized by gardens full of rose bushes, camellias and exotic trees. It was these flowers that brought Horne closer to Juan Manuel de Rosas, and it was his friendship with Rosas that finally forced him into exile after the latter's fall. Horne sold his property from Montevideo, by proxy, to José Gregorio Lezama in 1857, a wealthy merchant from Salta, who finished transforming it into one of the most beautiful places in the city.
Don Lezama, married to Doña Ángela de Álzaga, acquired new lots with which he extended the limit to Av. Brasil. A great fan of gardens and vegetation, he hired a Belgian landscaper to create the park. Paths and paths were laid out, sculptures, monuments, ciboriums and marble benches were placed and specimens of exotic trees, flowers and plants were brought from all over the world. They say that Gregorio Lezama exchanged specimens and seeds with Urquiza from the Palacio de San José, which made the collection more original. The old and huge house was restored and expanded. Italian style and with an exterior gallery, the sumptuous residence was completed with a viewing tower, from where you could see the river, the park, the surrounding country houses and the city. Surely a wonderful sight right?
Don Lezama managed to own the most beautiful private garden in Buenos Aires. Its flowerbeds with various species of camellias and its paths lined with myrtle trees were famous; The entire atmosphere invited calm and meditation, the iron fence that surrounded the perimeter guaranteed security.
In 1858 “morbid cholera” reached the San Telmo neighborhood and the city municipality installed a lazaretto or hospital in the Lezama house. Years later, during the yellow fever epidemic of 1871, the same house served as a shelter for many who believed they found in that isolation of the urban center and under its trees, protection against contagion. After her husband died in 1889, Doña Ángela de Álzaga decided to sell the farm to the Municipality with the express condition that it be used as a public space and that it bear the name of its last owner, and thus in 1894, the "Parque Lezama" was born. ".
In 1897, the elegant house was used as the headquarters of the "National Historical Museum." And quickly the area became a "must see" walk for the elite of the time; It was accessed at the corner of Defensa and Brasil, since a perimeter fence surrounded it; It was an ideal place to walk and enjoy, especially during summer nights.
In 1896, the then General Director of Parks and Walks Charles Thays planned various interventions: paths, tree plantations, a rose garden, among others.
Later, during the management of Benito Carrasco, disciple and successor of Thays, a large “auditorium” for music was built in 1914 on Brasil Street, taking advantage of the uneven terrain. At that time, fourteen stairs distributed throughout the entire length of the amphitheater allowed access to it. In this way, 6,000 people could participate in the artistic meetings. On both sides of the kiosk intended for the performers, plantings were formed with decorations and artistic vases in the center, completing the ensemble.
It had numerous attractions: a merry-go-round, a circus, a small train, an artificial lake, a dairy farm, a banquet pavilion, a restaurant, a "cinematograph" (the first in the neighborhood).
In 1931 the fence surrounding the park was removed. Some chronicles say that some assailants, when pursued by the police, skillfully climbed it, finding refuge. From then on the walk was completely free, since before it was open to the public only on Thursdays and Sundays.
On the sculptural level, the Park also has Heritage value. There are three sculptures related to the origins of three cities: that of Pallas Athena, with the rise of Athens; that of the Roman Wolf, with Rome and the fountain sculpture dedicated to Don Pedro de Mendoza.
The "Monument to the Adelantado Don Pedro de Mendoza" is located on the corner of Av. Brasil and Defensa Street, it is the work of the Uruguayan sculptor (naturalized Argentine) Juan Carlos Oliva Navarro. Inaugurated on June 23, 1936, it is made up of a fountain, a statue and several reliefs. The image of Don Pedro de Mendoza, in bronze, contrasts with that of the indigenous man behind him who symbolizes "La Raza", the bas-relief is executed on a block covered in travertine marble. On the sides, other reliefs narrate related scenes, while the two slopes of the fountain symbolize the two rivers: the Guadalquivir, the starting point, and the Río de la Plata, the arrival point.
The Roman Wolf or “Capitoline Wolf” is one of the oldest monuments since it was a gift from the city of Rome on the occasion of the Centennial celebrations. The sculpture was inaugurated on April 21, 1921. A replica of it is located in the Carlos Thays Botanical Garden.
In 1936, the “Monument to International Cordiality” was erected in Lezama Park, a tribute with which the city of Montevideo paid homage to the city of Buenos Aires when it turned four hundred years old. Located on Av. Martín García, it is the work of the sculptor Antonio Pena and the architect Julio Villamajó and represents the unity between Uruguay and Argentina. It is built in bronze and has motifs alluding to the conquest, the flora and fauna of the lands of La Plata. A huge column 15 meters high and 4 meters in diameter describes in its shaft various aspects and characteristics of the history of both towns; an emerging prow, a large female figure and sea horses accompany the whole. Although it dates back to 1936, it was only installed in 1962.
Lezama Park today continues to be a beautiful park to enjoy, with its slopes and green hills, its trees and vegetation, its monuments and its numerous benches that invite you to sit and enjoy the outdoors. A picturesque park full of history, available to all inhabitants of this beautiful city.