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A Divine Comedy

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At MALBA

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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