Palacio Barolo, Argentina

barolo-palace-argentina“It was built by the Italian architect Mario Palanti (1885-1979) for his compatriot a powerful textile executive Luis Barolo (1869-1922), in the 1910’s decades, who used to think, as all Europeans settled in Argentina, that Europe would suffer numerous wars that would destroy the entire continent. In desperation to preserve the ashes of the famous Dante Alighieri, he wanted to construct a sanctuary on 1300 May Avenue, inspired by the work of the poet, The Divine Comedy.

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“The building has plenty of references to Dante. The bulbs in the cupola represent the nine angelical choirs and the mystical rose. [. . .]

“The general division of the building and the poem is done in three parts: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The ground floor is Hell, the first 14 floors are Purgatory, and following floors are Paradise and the cupola represents God.

“The number of Hell hierarchies is nine, and nine are the arches of access to the building which represent initiation steps. Each arch has Latin phrases taken from nine different works from the Bible to Virgil. The cupola resembles that of the Budanishar Hindu temple dedicated to Tantra, representing the union between Dante and Beatrice.

“The songs from Dante’s work are a hundred just as the height of the building is a 100 mts. The majority of songs in the poem have eleven or twenty-two stanzas; the building has eleven modules per front, and twenty-two modules per block. The height is twenty-two floors. This set of numbers represents the circle which was, to Dante the perfect figure.”    —Buenos Aires Travel

“. . .One of many buildings at risk of demolition, preservationists say, is the 1923 Palacio Barolo, a mansion commissioned by a self-made millionaire and designed in accordance with the cosmology of Dante’s Divine Comedy.” [. . .]    –Emily Schmall, The New York Times, April 15, 2013

See the Palacio Barolo website for more information and history.

See also Sebastián Schindel’s 2012 documentary El rascacielos latino, available to view on YouTube (in Spanish; last accessed March 20, 2020).

Contributed by Juan Vitulli (University of Notre Dame)