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"The 2nd most extraordinary building in BA" Palacio Barolo Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Palacio Barolo, Buenos Aires: 7 reviews and 13 photos

  Palacio Barolo
by TheWanderingCamel
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1370 Avenida de Mayo is the address of a truly extraordinary building. At first glance it looks like yet another tall city building, all curved balconies, top heavy and with an odd central tower, 20th century Expressionism in concrete perhaps, just one more striking building of the period among many in this area of Buenos Aires. When Italian-born business man Luis Barolo funded the building, his aim was to create something of the fine architecture of Europe in the New World. On its completion in 1923, the Palacio Barolo was Buenos Aires’ tallest building, its rotating lighthouse (lit by 300,000 lamps) visible across the Rio de la Plata in Uraguay. All very splendid and reason enough for the Palacio to hold a special place among the many wonderful buildings in Buenos Aires.

Then you're told, or you read, something about the architect's inspiration and the building begins to take on a whole new look. Italian architect Mario Palanti had a passion for Dante's Inferno and he set about creating an allegorical tribute to the work in his adopted home in Argentina, importing most of the materials from Italy. (Despite being a Spanish colony originally, by the early 20th century there were so many Italians living in the country a referendunm was held to decide whether Spanish or Italian should be the official language.) Virtually every aspect of the building carries a reference to Dante's poem.

Ascending the building you pass through Hell (the entry) and Purgatory (levels 2-14) before arriving in Heaven (levels 15-22) - a reference to the three books of the poem.. We only saw Hell, with its fiery floor and many bronze dragons. Had we taken a full tour of the building we would have ascended to Heaven, arriving finally at the rooftop lighthouse, symbolic of God and Salvation.

The Inferno references continue in the height of the building - 100 metres - the number of cantos in the literary work, and the 22 stanzas of the cantos translating into 22 floors. Nine domes in the central hall ceiling are the nine steps towards paradise. Every floor has either 11 or 22 offices - again reflecting the number of stanzas.

I could go on, there are lots more Dante-inspired aspects to the building. Taking a guided tour will leave you full bottle on all the details.

Address: 1370 Avenida de Mayo
Phone: +54 11 4381-1885

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 9, 2008
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