When it was completed in 1923 Palacio Barolo was the tallest building in the city, sending a beacon of light that could be seen as far away as Montevideo in Uruguay (the building does in fact have a little sister, Montevideo’s Salvo Palace).
The building itself pays homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy is considered one of the greats of world literature. Written in verse in 1320, it describes Dante’s journey from the depths of hell through purgatory and into paradise.
The Barolo’s ground floor represents hell, floors 1 to 14 represent purgatory and the remaining floors represent heaven or paradise. There are nine entrances to the building, representing the nine depths of hell that Dante identified. The building stands 100 metres high, to represent the number of cantos in Dante’s work. There are 22 floors in total, representing the number of stanzas.
The building is an eclectic mix of architectural styles.
You can take a tour of the building by day or night. Guides speak English and Spanish and the tour lasted about an hour and cost 170 pesos (about £9 or US$13).
Some of the evening tours are ‘specials’ and so are more expensive and last longer. My original plan had been to take their New Year’s Eve tour, where they take you on a tour of the building, arriving at the top in time for a glass of ‘champagne’ (read: Argentinian sparkling wine) and a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks. However when I called in to enquire I found they needed payment in US dollars, cash (no card and definitely no pesos) and I have now spent all the dollars I brought into the country (I know they say ‘bring all the dollars you need with you’, but whilst that may be good advice for a 2 week holiday it really doesn’t work if your visit, like mine, is open ended).
Never mind, I still got to see the palace, and there will be other places to see the fireworks from.