A tour of Palacio Barolo is the best way to see the best view over the city of Buenos Aires. The lighthouse at the top is a vertigo-inducing marvel, well worth the narrow spiral staircase climb to the top.
The palace was designed by Italian architect Mario Palanti, who was a huge fan of Dante and decided to design the building with abundant symbolic references to the Divine Comedy. The building is exactly 100 meters tall, each meter representing a canto in the poem, with 22 floors, each representing a stanza. Circles throughout the building symbolize perfection, and the tour starts on the ground floor, where inscribed rose designs in the floor represent the fires of hell.
The first 14 floors are “purgatory” – ascended in a delightfully ancient elevator and with every 2 floors, you’ve managed to overcome one of the seven deadly sins.
From floor 14 up we ascended an extremely narrow tightly spiraling staircase to reach the panoramic balcony on the 20th floor, offering up amazing views of the setting sun over the city. Three more floors up is the lighthouse, with even more spectacular views and not for anyone afraid of heights.
The building was always meant to be an office building, with features like exterior bathrooms and only cold running water meaning taking up residence here would be difficult. It was the first building in the city to be entirely constructed of concrete, and the tallest building in South America at the time of completion (1923). The architectural style is eclectic, with a mix of neo-classical, French art nouveau, and Italian influences.
The guided tour is really worth it – more information can be found here.