Buenos Aires Travel Planet

Buenos Aires visitor’s guide

Sarmiento Palace


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The will and testament of wealthy Argentine aristocrat, Petronila Rodríguez, in 1882, declared her wishes to found a school. She wanted to donate four square blocks of her land to build a church, a Jesuit training college, an asylum and a school with the capacity for seven hundred girls that would hold her name. The end result is a striking, French-style palace that is today one of the most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires.

In 2006, this building was declared as an Argentine Historic Monument. The creamy façade and mansard lead roof, punctuated with elegant French windows explain why Buenos Aires is known as the Paris of Latin American. The palm trees that line the plaza in front of the Sarmiento Palace are the only clue that you’re in Argentina.

The building was designed by the Argentine architect Carlos Adolfo Altgelt, who worked in collaboration with his cousin Hans Altgelt. Construction took place between 1886 and 1888. As you can probably tell from their names, the cousins were sons of German immigrants who arrived in Argentina in 1849.

Throughout its history Sarmiento Palace has served a variety of purposes, despite the specific wishes expressed by Madame Rodríguez. After its inauguration in 1893, the palace served as the Argentine High Court Headquarters whilst the Palace of Justice was being constructed. It wasn’t until 1894 that the building served as a school for 700 young girls. Then, since 1903, the Sarmiento Palace has been the headquarters of the National Department for Education and the National Teacher’s Library, which is fitting considering the original wishes of Petronila Rodríguez.

Not surprisingly, considering the structure’s impressive nature, Palace Sarmiento caused quite a storm in Buenos Aires when it was built over a century ago. The three storey tall edifice got people talking and is even mentioned in the census of 1887. It is interesting to note that, even though the architectural style is clearly French-influenced, the building bears the marks of the German influence from the architects.  The decorative cantilevers with human figures and allegorical references are clearly influences from the German school of architecture.

Sarmiento Palace is open to the public on the last Tuesday of every month. For more information, you can phone 114129 1544. However, you can also appreciate this incredible building from the outside without a guided tour.  An impressive architectural masterpiece that mixes styles and influences: another clear example of the eclectic nature of Buenos Aires design and architecture. Check out our Buenos Aires travel guide for more must-see architectural gems in Buenos Aires.

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