Buenos Aires-Palacio Barolo, Argentina (3 of 5)

Designed by architect Mario Palanti for Italian immigrant Luigi Barolo, Palacio Barolo is an office building whose architecture is inspired by Dante Alighieri´s Divine Comedy. Barolo immigrated to Argentina in 1890 and became a very successful businessman. He obtained a special concession to build the 24 floor building, the tallest in South America upon its inauguration in 1923. A rotating light beacon (300,000 spark plugs), only accessible through a narrow spiral staircase was added to the top making it visible from Uruguay.  It was the first reinforced concrete building in Argentina. It contains 1,410 steps covered with marble, granite walls and columns, 9 old fashioned elevators.

The building’s architecture has numerous references to the Divine Comedy, starting with its division into Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. It is 100m tall corresponding to Dante’s 100 songs. A lot of symbols are built into its architecture from gargoyles to condors to dragons and it has over a dozen Latin inscriptions.

We visited on 2/19/2023. I thought that the lobby is by far the most interesting floor architecturally. Upper floors are not as ornate, basically consisting of hallways and offices. Our tour made use of both elevators and stairs. We climbed the narrow stairs to the very top. The beacon was blindingly bright. The space is very narrow up there, the spiral stairs almost claustrophobic. Visitors with health conditions may not be able to get to the very top. Our group had to split in two at this point as space is very limited. It was very cool to see Buenos Aires below us through the glass windows around the light, the bat symbol made for cool reflections. From the top we climbed down to an open balcony offering amazing cityscape views. It was perfect timing as the sun was about to set. This part was likely the highlight of the tour for me as I was able to capture sunset photos of Buenos Aires from a high viewpoint over the city.

To visit Palacio Barolo, you must book a guided tour. Unaccompanied visitors are not allowed. Purchasing tickets ahead of time is recommended especially during high tourist season. I suggest you time your visit around sunset for the best views. This time slot costs a bit more, but they offer a glass of wine and crackers at the end of this tour which was a nice perk.

References Palacio Barolo

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