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A Divine Comedy

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The Divine Comedy and the Story of a Merchant’s Dream.
(Map this!)

Nel mezzo del camin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva scura,
chè la dritta via era smarrita

Dante Alighieri, “L’Inferno”


With these famous lines we enter hell. Or rather, the first (ground) floor of Palacio Barolo, the product of a fantastic dream of a rich textile merchant of twentieth century Argentina, Luis Barolo. Thinking that Europe would be destroyed by incessant wars, he built a mausoleum for Dante Alighieri’s ashes (which, unsurprisingly enough, the Italians never released) in a magnificent edifice with architecture suffused with the Divine Comedy.

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The view from the top of Palacio Barolo facing the Congress


To view the 38.16 megapixel panorama click here.


We zoomed up hell and purgatory relatively easily – but reaching heaven was hard work. The ancient elevator could not carry everyone in our little group, so some of us had to schlep the last few floors up a one-person-wide stairway. Inexplicably, the once-tallest building in South America is topped by a lighthouse lamp, housed in a glass dome. Precariously perched on the metal railing, we took in the panoramic view of the “Congresso” district of Buenos Aires – the wedding cake Congress building, the expansive plaza which is a magnet for the homeless, the sidewalk cafes as well as the colorfully painted bus of unknown purpose that seems to be a permanent fixture of the landscape…

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