inferno / purgatorio / paradiso
palacio barolo, buenos aires

history and design:

When the Palacio Barolo was completed in 1923, it was the tallest building in South America, with a crowning lighthouse that could be seen from Montevideo, Uruguay. The Italian architect, Mario Palanti, was commissioned to build the palace by an Italian immigrant, Luis Barolo, who had become rich in the fabrics trade. Palanti was a huge fan of Dante, and designed his building to pay tribute to the great author’s Divine Comedy.

The building is precisely 100 meters tall, one meter for each canto in the epic poem. Following Dante’s footsteps, a visitor to Palacio Barolo begins his journey in Hell (the basement and ground floor), moves on through Purgatory (floors 1-14) and ends in Heaven (floors 15-22). The 22 floors equal the number of stanzas of the poem’s verses. Each floor is split into 22 offices. And as in the Divine Comedy, the number nine is repeated throughout the building’s plan. Nine entries to the building represent the nine hierarchies of hell, while nine arches in the central hall stand for hell’s nine circles.

…The palace was inaugurated on Dante’s birthday, and Latin inscriptions throughout the building pay further tribute to the poet. The crowning cupola, inspired by a Hindu temple in India, symbolizes Dante’s union with Beatrice, his perfect woman.


Janvier 2014

Le Palacio Barolo : Barrio Monserrat, Buenos Aires

Situé  Avenida de Mayo 1370, le Palacio Barolo est un immeuble construit entre 1919 et 1923 par l’architecte italien Mario Palanti, à la demande de Luis Barolo, un magnat du textile. A l’époque, c’était l’immeuble le plus haut d’Amérique du Sud avec 100 m de hauteur et 18 étages. 

L’architecte s’est inspiré de la Divine Comédie de Dante pour le décor :

  • les 100 mètres de hauteur représentent les 100 chants du poème
  • il est divisé en 3 sections distinctes qui correspondent aux 3 livres : l’enfer, le purgatoire, et le paradis
  • le hall d’entrée est surmonté de 9 voûtes qui représentent les 9 hiérarchies infernales
  • chacun des étages dispose de 11 ou 22 bureaux (toujours occupés par des entreprises), ce qui correspond au nombre de strophes des chants

Tout en haut, il y a un phare, qui devait à l’origine permettre d’échanger des signaux avec le Palacio Salvo à Montevideo (Uruguay), construit par le même architecte en 1925.

Comme vous pouvez le voir à travers mes photos, l’intérêt de la visite ne passe vraiment que par la vue panoramique que l’on a sur le Congreso!

Palacio Barolo is a magnificent office building, built in 1923 by the Italian Architect Mario Palanti for an Italian businessman Luis Barolo. The building, still used as an office building, was also a tribute to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. It starts from the ground floor - hell - goes to purgatory and finishes in heaven - a panoramic balcony with a dome, fitted with a giant spotlight, large enough that in a clear night the light can be seen from the building’s twin, Palacio Salvo in Montevideo. Apart from that, it is filled with metaphors and allegories for Dante’s masterpiece. As I was told by our fantastic tour guide, In addition from being admirers, Barolo and Palanti were considered themselves linked to Dante through all being Freemasons. It was even rumoured that Barolo had arranged with Mussolini to transfer Dante’s remains to Buenos Aires to be buried here. True or not, this building is a gem and a night tour is must when you are in Buenos Aires. 


Palacio Barolo.

"Palacio Barolo is a landmark office building, located at 1370 Avenida de Mayo, in the neighborhood of Monserrat, Buenos Aires, Argentina. When it was built it was the tallest building in the city and South America. Its twin brother, Palacio Salvo, is a building designed and erected in Eclectic style, but of greater height, built by the same architect in Montevideo.

Italian architect Mario Palanti was commissioned to design the building by the empresario Luis Barolo, an Italian immigrant who had arrived in Argentina in 1890 and had made a fortune in knitted fabrics. The basic design, in eclectic style, was conceived simultaneously with one for the Palacio Salvo in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Palacio Barolo was designed in accordance with the cosmology of Dante’s Divine Comedy, motivated by the architect’s admiration for Alighieri. There are 22 floors, divided into three “sections”. The basement and ground floor represent hell, floors 1-14 are the purgatory, and 15-22 represent heaven. The building is 100 meters (328 feet) tall, one meter for each canto of the Divine Comedy. The lighthouse at the top of the building can be seen all the way in Montevideo, Uruguay. The owner planned to use only 3 floors, and to rent the rest.

When completed in 1923 it was the tallest building, not only in the city, but also in the whole of South America. It remained the city’s tallest building until 1935 when, on completion, the Kavanagh Building acquired this distinction. Today it houses mainly lawyer offices, a Spanish language school, and a store that sells Tango clothing.

This building was declared a national historic monument in 1997.”