walkscape Buenos Aires
One hundred meters of legends
Posted on August 16, 2018

At number 1370 of Avenida de Mayo, there is a majestic building, eclectic and with a sinuous shape, its name is Palacio Barolo. The tower looms up into the sky, imposing itself on the road, which is not that small, but not even enough big to see the highest point of this giant. One-hundred meters is the building's height. One hundred of the chapters of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. That's not a coincidence, the symbolic power of this building is extremely powerful.

The project, drafted by the Italian architect Mario Palanti, is based on a declared inspiration for the book. Every shape, decoration or building part has to do with numbers and coincidences, always very complex. A series of legends float across the building, one of these says that its construction might be a secret plan to take Dante's ashes from Italy to Buenos Aires. This story binds to Freemasonry, in which the architect and the developer were part. The freemasonry has a relevant presence inside the building through obvious symbols.

The building has twenty-two floors, just like the lyrics in the lines of Dante's poem. The main hall was formerly designed as a pedestrian crossing to link two roads. Inside the hall, a number of sculptures with the shape of dragons and gargoyles prompt us to find ourselves in the poem's hell, ready to go up to the heaven. The ascent begins through an old elevator with wooden interiors from the twenties. We arrive at the seventh floor, where the purgatory starts. From the circular railings, by lowering the look we can see the hell below, while by raising the look, a big circle lamp represents the sun, namely God.

We go up even more, through claustrophobic stairs until reaching the top of the tower. Once there the view is amazing, a panoramic view of the city, of its roofs, its hidden terraces, its light colors, its massing and its complexity.

But is not the end, the climb to the heaven is still long, two floors divide us by the lamp in the highest peak. From there, closed into a glass box the city looks much wider. The lantern was used, as wanted by the legend, to send encrypted messages to Palacio Salvo, a twin building located on the other bank of the Rio de la Plata, in Montevideo.

Finally, we have reached the heaven, and the view is gorgeous.