Pasaje Guëmes

Francisco Gianotti (1881-1967) is an italian architect who, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, studied in Brussels, where he came in contact with the works and theories of the two founders of the ‘art nouveau’, Victor Horta and Henri Van de Velde.

After that he went to Milan where he worked on several buildings for the ‘world exposition’ of 1906.

In 1909 he came to Argentina, where he began to work for the architects Arturo Prins and Oscar Ranzenhofer. This is where he met his future clientele and an other important architect Mario Palanti.

It is with this Palanti that he worked together on the Italian Pavilion built for ‘the International Railway Centennial Exposition’ in 1910. After that he started to design residential houses and appartments.

In 1910 he was commisioned to design the ‘Inmobiliara Building’ on avenida de Mayo, and the ‘Galeria Guëmes‘ in Florida street. These are the first buildings completely designed by his hand. In 1915 he designed another famous building which is the ‘Confiteria El Molino’, in Art Nouveau style.

General Guemes Gallery can be considered the most important work by Gianotti. Although now it is more like a hidden passage. You would almost walk passed it. With its fourteen floors and 80 meters high, it is considered the first skyscraper in Buenos Aires. Now it is hidden between other and higher buildings.

Originally it was supposed to be just a building on Florida, but after an agreement with the bank of Superveille who owned the land on San Martin, they decided to build another building on that side and make a passage that connected both streets, Florida and San Martin.

This buildings had multiple functions. Offices, a theatre, restaurants, a ballroom, shops. The passage, for pedestrians only, connected the 2 buildings.

The front side on florida is completely changed and unrecognizable, but once you go in all you see is absolute splendour. The galleria is recently restaured and is magnificent. It is a jewel in the crowded street of Florida.

General Guëmes (Martín Miguel Juan de Mata Güemes Montero de Goyechea y la Corte) (1785-1821) himself had not much to do with the construction of this galleria. He had lived about 100 years before the construction of it.

For 6 years he was governer of the province of Salta, and he was an important military who fought in the independence war against the Spanish. As there was a lack of troops Guëmes was forced to form an army of gauchos to protect the country of foreign invasions. These gauchos knew the country well. They had no uniform but wore ponchos, they had ‘unusual’ tecniques (like attacking at night) and were armed with machetes and rifles. In between the battles they went back to work on their lands.

Martin Miguel de Guëmes is the only Argentine General who died in action, he was only 36 years old.

This Gaucho army came to an end together with the death of its boss, but still plays a prominent role in the memory of the independence war.

Guëmes was important enough to have a city in the province of Salta named after him, a street in Capital, and this beautiful gallery.

8 responses to “Pasaje Guëmes”

  1. I can´t believe that I work 5 blocks from there and I don’t even know that place. I used to work in H Yrigoyen and 9 de Julio close to the Palacio Barolo Building also without knowing it. A TV documental I saw opened my eyes and I went there the next day. Specially because I like dragons. What a beautiful building!
    I will go to Güemes Gallery soon and see it by myself. I love the architecture of these buildings.
    Soy un ignorante argentino, mi ciudad está llena de cosas hermosas y desconozco la mitad. Ah, bienvenida a este loco país.
    Ps: I think you should add the address of this building for others to visit it. I checked it out and it is in Florida 165 or San Martín 172 as it connects both streets.

    • Me too I saw it on a TV documental (by accident as i never watch tv).
      Don’t worry about being ignorant, most people are when it comes to knowing their own city. For that you have foreign people like me (jeje) to point these thing out to the locals. It’s a lot easier, you first look at my pictures and then decide if it it’s worth the trip. Galeria Guëmes certainly is!

      • That’s why I subscribed to your blog!
        I really love your work. Seguí así que esté re bueno! Keep it up!
        TV documentals are the only thing worth watching on TV.

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