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. 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.

Palacio Barolo
Barolo Palace

Location in Buenos Aires
General information
TypeOffice Building
Architectural styleArt Nouveau, Art Deco, Eclecticism, Gothic
LocationMonserrat, Buenos Aires, Argentina
AddressAvenida de Mayo 1370
Construction started1919
Height100 metres
Technical details
Floor count22
Design and construction
ArchitectMario Palanti
Main contractorWayss & Freytag
Official website
National Historic Monument of Argentina

This building was declared a national historic monument in 1997.[1] Currently, the building has several travel agencies, a Spanish school for foreigners, a store that sells clothes for tango, offices and studios of architects, accountants, and lawyers.


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 (330 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.

Technical details

The steel-structured skyscraper measures 100 meters and has 18 floors; each floor has a unique design and ornamentation. Staying with the Divine Comedy (in addition to the meter for each canto), the lighted beacon at the top of the building represents the nine choirs of angels. The structure is topped by a small spire with an ornament depicting the Southern Cross constellation. The building is listed in the Emporis database.[2]

The building's foundations conform to the golden ratio. The skyscraper was constructed to house Dante's ashes; Barolo believed "that Europe had begun drifting toward collapse" and wanted to house them as far away as possible from the Continent.[3]

The lobby features a central hall adorned with inscriptions in Latin verse and monster statues. It radiates out from a central dome into nine vaulted archways; these represent the nine circles of hell as described the Inferno. The first three floors have geometric figures representing the alchemical symbols for fire, the colors of the Italian flag, and various Masonic symbols on the walls and floors. The lobby also has operational antiquated elevators.[3]

The lighthouse on the top of the building along with the Palacio Salvo in Montevideo, Uruguay, were designed to serve as a welcome to visitors arriving from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rio de la Plata estuary, similar to the Pillars of Hercules.[3] The ornamental spire aligns with the actual Southern Cross constellation on July 9, Argentine Independence Day.[3]

Historical photos


  • Mimi Bohm, Buenos Aires, Art Nouveau, Ediciones Xavier Verstraeten, Buenos Aires, 2005.
  • Palacio Barolo brochure from a guided tour.
  1. Decreto 437/97
  2. "Palacio Barolo". Emporis. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  3. "Palacio Barolo, A tower devoted to — and modeled after — the Divine Comedy". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved June 6, 2017.

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