Buildings of Buenos Aires – Palacio Paz
One such building is the Palacio Paz in Buenos Aires. And if you are looking to have your mind blown by a combination of incredible architecture with some seriously over the top opulence the you’re going to love Buenos Aires. It’s grandeur, size and history is something to behold. I even heard that it’s known as the Paris of South America. That I’m not so sure of. Whilst I was there there were protests and I could clearly see there are a lot of people faced with poverty in Buenos Aires. Which is one thing that struck me as I walked the halls and corridors of the Palacio Paz.
This building was commissioned by Jose C. Paz, a newspaper mogul who hoped to become President of Argentina, but died before the building was finished in the early 1914. His family lived there for many years whilst things were good but eventually sold it when times got rough following the Great Depression. After that time it became an officers’ club.
It was designed built to impress, and was designed by a prominent French architect, Louis Sortais. In fact it was also half built in Europe from mostly European materials, which were then shipped over to Argentina. It took 12 years to erect. It was specifically designed to ‘wow’ the visitor at every point, who would go from one incredible room to another before finally meeting the family in a huge room with a giant dome in the Italian style, not dissimilar to the pantheon in Rome (albeit a little smaller).
Tickets were a little under $20 Australian, or around $14-$15 US, and the only way to see it was via a guided tour. The entrance itself is impressively appointed, coming in from the square through impressive gates with the Palacio Paz to the left (another building to the right). There is sadly little of the original furniture etc left as that was also sold as the family downsized nevertheless there are plenty of fixtures and chandeliers, not to mention an impressive statue just up from the entrance.
Every room has an incredible number of doors. Some are false and some are hidden, all are designed to keep within the style of the individual room. The first main room leads to another, and then to a ballroom. There’s a balcony that sits above the dance floor which frequently hosted events, the balcony has enough room for a small orchestra. I should say that of the 140+ rooms in the palace we only got to see maybe 10 or 12 of them.
The main corridor from the entrance itself is just amazing with deep red, beautiful wooden decorations and seats that are part of the walls, and not really designed to be sat on, rather just part of the design. The ballroom to one side of the corridor, on the other side was a dining room, just as impressive.
We even got the chance to look at the thin corridors that run between walls for the servants to carry drinks and food to all parts of the palace without actually walking in the main corridors. Sadly, we only got to see a short one. To be let loose in the palace and scurry down these ‘hidey holes’ would have been awesome fun.
Much of the building was off limits, we were confined to one floor and not nearly every room. The main bedrooms were on the first floor, and on the second was the servant’s quarters. The other wing of the house was further along, and we got to see the Senor’s office/study. Impressive, but at the time far more modern and New World than the rest of the house. It’s was almost Art Deco.
Then we were finally let into the main audience chamber with a dome and a second level which we could only admire from the ground floor. The family would come from the rooms and view the guests from the balcony before coming down the marble staircase (well, there was a fair bit of marble) to greet the new guests. A more impressive entrance? Not Possible?
As a tourist, it was simply breathtaking, simply unbelievable. Built in a time when Argentina’s agriculture had made the country’s economy boom, it’s not too hard to see how this building is a product of its time. However, in today’s Buenos Aires you almost want to ask if the government couldn’t possibly sell it off to make affordable housing or something. In truth, it is shocking to think how some live. And it can’t be argued that there were NO poor people in Argentina at the time.
This coupled with the fact that I, having the ability and means to actually get to Argentina, made for some uneasy thought about inequality in this world. But hey, another step and I’d be getting political here so I will sign off by saying it’s well worth the visit, it’s a simply stunning palace. If you visit it, don’t forget you are extremely lucky to be able to! May the Journey Never End!