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Montevideo, Uruguay

Palacio Salvo

The design of the Palacio Salvo has been described as "a lighthouse on top of a building." 

Inaugurated in 1928, Palacio Salvo appeared in the city landscape as a strange creature, one that has both delighted and disgusted architecture buffs for decades.

Designed by the italian architect Mario Palanti, the building has everything you could imagine, from a cinema to a hotel. The palace was originally topped with a lighthouse with a with a parabolic mirror of 920mm, reaching approximately 100km, but the light was later removed in favor of an antenna that gave the 27-floor building its eventual height of 100 meters. With this addition it was once thought to be the tallest building in South America, but the antenna has since been removed, demoting it to simply a fantastic display of architecture.

Originally intended as a luxury hotel, the palace never managed to fulfill that purpose, and acts instead as a very elaborate collection of private residences and offices. The vast number of rooms in the gothic palace vary in condition and are said to be inhabited by an equally varied clientele. While wandering around the building you can supposedly bump into a three-million-dollar music studio, a radio station, and ladies of the night briskly doing business. 

Palacio Salvo is like a living organism and a major attraction if you are visiting Montevideo. Though tourists are not allowed to get into the building (sometimes you can find someone nice that might invite you) just viewing the palace from the Plaza Independencia is worth a visit to the site.