The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Introduced by Miquaeas Thärigen and Tomás Thärigen of Palacio Barolo Tours
Luis Barolo was a powerful agricultural producer, born in 1869 in Piamonte, Italy. He arrived in Argentina in 1890 and he was the first person to import wool spinning machinery into the country and he made a fortune exporting the textiles made on these machines.
Barolo came up with the idea to construct a building inspired by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. Like all Europeans living in Argentina at the time, Barolo believed that Europe would witness a series of wards that would destroy the continent. Anxious to preserve Dante’s remains, Barolo wanted to design a building in homage to Dante and to provide a tomb for his remains.
The Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem written during 1308-1321 by Dante. It is considered the seminal work of Italian literature. It is divided into three major sections: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. The poem represents the symbolic number three that advocates the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the balance the stability and the eternal triangle. The main characters in the poem are Dante, who performs the human being, Beatrice plays the Faith and Virgil represents the epitome of human knowledge, the Reason. Each part has 33 cantos, except Hell that has 34 so the whole poem is composed of 100 cantos.
Architect Mario Palanti, also an Italian, was contracted for the project. He was a scholar of The Divine Comedy and he filled the palaces with references to it. The design of the building is based on the golden section and the golden number.
100 metres high – 100 cantos in The Divine Comedy
22 levels – 22 stanzas in some cantos
11 frontage balconies – 11 stanzas in some cantos
There are hundreds of references to The Divine Comedy throughout the building.
Sadly Barolo died just before the official opening of the building. Our grandfather rented an office in the building when it opened, and our family still rent that office to this day. We are fascinated by the history and stories of this building and now run tours of the building that go right to the top to the lighthouse, with fabulous views across the city of Buenos Aires and over to Uruguay.
We also collect copies of The Divine Comedy. In a junk shop in Flores we found an edition translated by Bartolomé Mitre, President of Argentina 1821-1906.
Do come and visit the Palacio Barolo if you are in Buenos Aires, we would be delighted to share more about The Divine Comedy and how it inspired this unique and majestic building.