Palacio Barolo
From the Hell to the Heaven

Page 2

Explore interior of the Palacio Barolo – from Hell at the ground level to Paradise at the top of the building designed by Palanti as homage to Dante Alighieri and his poem the Divine Comedy

The eclectic architectural style of the Palacio Barolo borrowed from many trends.

Among them, neo-Gothic cathedral-like entrance hall (with strong Neapolitan influence), Art-Nouveau and neo-Romantic styles throughout the upper floors (although much less ornamented than the central hall) and a clear Indian accent of the uppermost part of the building - Cupola.

Obviously the ground floor offers the most for visitors.

The huge arched entrances, high vaulted ceilings, columns decorated with dragons, lamps supported by condors, floor’s mosaic with “rings of fire” and the original iron-gated elevators with mechanical level-indicators (not working anymore and for convenience supplemented by red lights) – can make impression. 
Along the vaults you will find old Roman inscriptions (in Latin) from which I wanted to quote the following:

Ars homo additus naturae

As most of us do not know Latin I took liberty to translate the thought expressed by this inscription (possibly “bending” its original meaning according to my beliefs). So here it is: 

“Art is a human contribution to the work of nature”

Wow! That is all I can say for this more than two thousand years expression!

Original sketch of the future building prepared for Mr. Luis Barolo

     To access the upper levels of the building you have to take the guided tour. Contrary to the expectations you will see interior considerably less interesting than the entrance and the eye-catching external facade. But the tour (BTW - provided by grand-sons of an office clerk who worked in Palacio Barolo shortly after its opening in 1923) offers significant advantages. The most important - views from the top floor balconies that have no equals in Buenos Aires.

As you step out on one of balconies in front of you opens a "bird-view" panorama of Buenos Aires. Starting from the magnificent towers of the next to Palacio Barolo - Edificio La Inmobiliaria, through the Plaza Moreno, then vast Plaza del Congreso with its Monumento a los Dos Congresos and an enormous fountain till the colossal green-domed Parliament (Palacio del Congreso).

Views down the Avenida de Mayo (towards the Casa Rosada) are quite obscured by omnipresent trees along the boulevard, but still you can have the overwhelming feeling of its grandioseness. And the view goes father reaching “El Mar Dulce” as Argentineans call the river La Plata – at this point few tens of kilometers wide.

Old elevators still work perfectly taking us to the upper levels.

View from the elevator up through the ceiling

But this is not all – after climbing very narrow stairs (if I remember eight floors up) you will reach the glass-covered lighthouse with its beacon (originally equivalent to 300.000 bulbs of light-power). Initially it was designed to reach Montevideo where M. Palanti designed the sister building called Palacio Salvo with similar lighthouse intended for signaling between these two cities. The beacon was restored during recent renovation works and its operation is being demonstrated by the guide.

As the patriotic Argentinean accent – on the top of the lighthouse cupola there is a small spire symbolizing the constellation of the Southern Cross. During the first days of July the Constellation of the Southern Cross lines up with its symbol over the building (it was designed for perfect alignment on July 9, Argentine Independence Day at 7:45pm).

Please note that balconies and the lighthouse are not recommended for faint-hearted (or in general people with a fear of heights).

      The last part of the tour includes the visit to the “frozen-in-time” office on one of the upper floors. Apparently preserved in its “close-to-original” shape with seemingly old furniture and books on the shelves and here and there scattered memorabilia, the office allows you to instantly feel the atmosphere reigning here in early 1920’s.

On the oval table you will see a plasticized color photocopy of the slightly damaged but presumably original project of the building (you can buy one downstairs in the guided tour office for 15 AR pesos). This is also the place where you will pay for the tour receiving the nicely designed ticket as the souvenir from the Palacio Barolo.

Understandably the Palacio Barolo was declared a National Historical Monument. Armed with the corresponding privileges, in 2002 the building underwent the complete renovation following the original plans and ultimately bringing back its old and long forgotten splendor.

For those interested in work of Mario Palanti – let me mention that there are few more of his designs in Buenos Aires. For example Hotel Castelar (also on Avenida de Mayo not far from Palacio Barolo), an apartment building on the corner of Santa Fe and Callao Avenue and a monumental Palacio Chrysler in Palermo (today known as Palacio Alcorta). The later covering the area of the whole block at the time of commissioning had a roof-top cars’ test track with the arena capacity for about 3000 people.

View on the Hell from the lower level of Purgatory - (medallions represent the fire....)

Views from the top of the Palacio Barolo on the Plaza Moreno and the vast Plaza del Congreso flanked by the colossal green-domed Parliament (Palacio del Congreso).

 Breathtaking view on Buenos Aires.....

In the lighthouse there is no much room for tourists - most of the space is taken by its heart: The Revolving Beacon.

Entering this office you feel the atmosphere of early 1920's.....

 Condor taking the body of Dante to the Heaven 

 "Heaven" as seen from the Entrance Hall; 

 Ticket is a nice memory from the tour of the Palacio Barolo (price in AR pesos).

I hope that the Free Palacio Buenos Aires Pictures raised your awareness so next time walking down the Avenida de Mayo in the capital of Argentina you will not hesitate to stop at the Palacio Barolo and take the tour (especially if sunny day guarantees magnificent vistas from the top floors). 

To re-start the tour of the Palacio Barolo from the 1st page please select the link:  History of the Palacio Barolo  (previous) 

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