Buenos Aires Travel Planet

Buenos Aires visitor’s guide

Congress Palace building

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The Palace of Congress is one the emblematic buildings that is closely associated with Buenos Aires. In 1974, a research study showed that Congress was the most popular choice of postcard picture, as it represents the elegance that typifies Buenos Aires architecture. The beauty of the Congress palace building is also striking with its bronze covered domed roof and heavily adorned stonework.

The idea of constructing a newer and bigger palace of Congress was first suggested in 1883. A competition was then held in 1895 to decide who would be given such a responsibility. Out of the 28 architects from all over the world who competed, the Italian architect Victor Meano won the prize and was commissioned with designing the building. Work began in 1898; three years after the competition began. The architect Meano unfortunately died before he could complete the task and so the Argentine architect Julio Dormal then had to finish work on the decorative features and interior design.

Despite this set back and other complications the building was inaugurated in 1906. Work did continue on the structure until 1946 when the building was officially completed.

The Congress building that still exists today, however, has not always been the home of the Argentine congress. The first home of Argentine government in Buenos Aires was actually in Cabildo in the Plaza de Mayo (May Square). Then, the newly established government, moved to the Manzana de las Luces (Block of Lights) a historic site that was originally build by the Jesuits. Before the construction of the current Congress building (or Congreso, in Spanish), the Argentine House of Senators and Governors met in a different building on what is today known as Hipólito Yrigoyen.

After plenty of moving around they finally settled on the Palace of Congress which was built and designed especially for the purpose. The current Congress covers 9000 metres squared, plus 7000 metres of office space, spread over four floors and a basement. The creamy color of Congress’ exterior is thanks to the grey limestone that makes up the exterior walls and columns. The style is Greco-Roman, which was specifically chosen to represent the purpose of the building: justice and democracy. When staring up at the Congress Palace, perhaps from the Congress Plaza that lies in front, the thing that will most stand out is the dome tower that measures an impressive 80 meters tall.

The Congress has played an important role in the history of Argentina and is where Senators and Governors vote on legislation and laws. Most recently, it was here that the investigations into the crimes committed by the military dictatorship were held.

Take a look at Buenos Aires travel guide for more information on historic buildings or architecture of Buenos Aires.

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