Top 10 Not-To-Miss Architectural Highlights of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires’ eclectic clash of architecture ranging from from baroque to art deco, makes it one of the best cities for architecture aficionados.
How is it possible to narrow down to just ten incredible buildings in a city that holds some of the most impressive architecture in the world? Well, one can only try, and we’ve created a list of not-to-miss buildings to appreciate in the city.
Chances are that if you check out the below you will inevitably stumble upon many other gems along the way.
Architect Mario Palanti was inspired by Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ when he set out to build this twenty-two story building, commissioned by Luis Barolo in 1923. Needless to say, every detail in the interior and exterior of the building was designed to represent the stages of hell, purgatory and paradise: the bottom floors represent hell, the middle, purgatory, and the top floor represents heaven where a magnificent lighthouse. The building was ranked as the tallest building in all of South America until the Kavanagh Building took over positioning in 1935, and several skyscrapers have taken over in more recent years.
The best way to see Palacio Barolo is to take one of it’s evening tours, where you’ll get an opportunity to soak up more of the Dante-inspired details, enjoy panoramic views of the city (from ‘heaven’ might I add) and finish with a wine tasting in a quaint library within the building.
Avenida de Mayo 1370, Monserrat
Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Amongst the almost two hundred beautiful churches that exist in Buenos Aires, is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, hidden away in San Telmo, beside Parque Lezama. This building is an unmissable obvious landmark, with its colorful exterior and striking Eastern European influence. Built between 1898 and 1901 by Alejandro Christophersen, a well-known Argentine architect, the church still opens for services and for worshippers to come and pray. Wander inside to see the ornate detail and priests in their traditional dress, however, keep in mind that photography is not allowed.
Avenida de Brasil 315, San Telmo
The stunning Teatro Colon is now over hundred years old and still functions as a popular venue for world-class ballet, opera and orchestral performances. The theatre is renowned for holding the world’s best acoustics due to its structure, shape and size. It took twenty years and three architects to build so its no wonder it has resulted in something quite spectacular.
A ticket to one of the performances at Teatro Colon is probably the most memorable way to experience this building, along with taking a guided tour for a behind the scenes look at this most iconic theater.
A theatre turned bookstore, El Ateneo’s interior is definitely something to behold; boasting beautifully painted ceilings, intricate carvings and endless lines of bookshelves. The original theatre, ‘Gran Teatro Splendid’, designed by Peró and Torres Armengol in the late 1800s to early 1900s, is still very much intact and being made use of; the stage hosting a buzzy cafe and the grand stalls at each side offering customers a cosy place to sit and read. Known as a bit of a tourist highlight, we still appreciate it for it’s gorgeous interior.
Avenida Sante Fe 1860, Barrio Norte
This whole street deserves a mention for the diverse and pretty buildings that run along it. Slightly off the beaten track, Calle Malasia is a quaint cobblestoned street in Belgrano that is a joy to wander down and enjoy more European-inspired architecture, especially if you’re in the mood for taking yourself away from the busier parts of the city. Many of the houses were built in the late 1800s to early 1900s and have aged well with their charming stonework, impressive doorways and ivy laden exteriors.
Sat among lines of beautiful Parisian-style buildings along Avenida de Mayo, Cafe Tortoni, built in 1858, has been made famous by well known artists, musicians and writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, who used to frequent it. A look inside is reminiscent of this era, with marble topped tables, artwork from some of its old customers gracing the walls and old-school lighting. The cafe’s unique history has resulted in queues of people waiting outside for the opportunity to sit and enjoy a bit of nostalgia, therefore be prepared for a bit of a wait.
Avenida de Mayo 825, Monserrat
Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo
Located along Libertador (close to many of Buenos Aires’s main museums), the Museo Decorativo sits behind a tall wall and is waiting to be discovered.
The museum was originally built in 1911 as a home for a highly influential family in Buenos Aires; in fact, not just for a single family, but for the combination of two of the most influential families in Chile and Argentina at the time. This classic offers much charm and intrigue as you enter through its doors. A lot of the interior is done in neo-classical style, with furnishings and materials originally shipped over from Europe (Italy, England, France and Spain mainly). Added to this is the eclectic mix of artwork and collectables gathered by the family that are still on show to be enjoyed by visitors.
Av.del Libertador 1902, Recoleta
Faculty of Law and Human rights (UBA)
The Faculty of Law is probably one of the most striking buildings in the city. It serves today as part of the University of Buenos Aires, one of the largest and most prestigious schools in South America. On the road that sits behind Las Bellas Artes museum is this impressive building, with huge steps leading to Pantheon-inspired columns. Legend has it that students won’t pass through the building’s main doors until their graduation, believing that if they were to do so then they would fail their degree.
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 2263, Recoleta
The French embassy, previously the Ortiz Basualdo Palace, was designed by French architect Paul Pater in 1912. In 1939, the building was given to the French embassy who did in fact recently open its doors temporarily to the public (September 2014). The inside is impressive with its Beaux Arts style and rooms filled with decorative features inspired by classical styles such as the baroque and tudor styles of previous centuries. From the outside, the building can still be admired for its incredible French inspired architecture and stunning circular tower that sits at the top. It’s almost hard to believe that the building was almost demolished in 1970s as part of preparations for Avenida 9 de Julio (thankfully the French refused to budge!)
Palacio de la Legislatura
Built in the early 1900s, the Palacio de la Legislatura sets itself apart from neighbouring buildings with its distinctive carytids, all twenty-six of them lining the roof of the building. The neo classical style is awe inspiring and a look inside will impress you even more with its huge library full of century-old books and historical rooms, including the Salon Rosada (or Eva Peron salon as its best known). The building is open to the public on weekdays if you’re interested in taking a closer look.
Perú 130, Monserrat