The lavish mansion, a worthy example of the type upper classes used to build following European designs and materials, causes a lasting impression.
The City of Gualeguaychú is located a few kilometers from Concepción del Uruguay and nearby Palacio San José, General Justo José de Urquiza’s manor. In a sparsely populated area, the leader, or caudillo from the province of Entre Ríos lived with his family in much the same luxurious style as in European courts, in a mansion which took almost a decade to be completed.
As we approached this magnificent building, the symmetrical towers at each end immediately caught our attention. Its architecture could be deemed Italianesque, with Spanish colonial touches. Its classical friezes and galleries with Tuscan columns gave us a hint of what we would be seeing.
We joined a guided tour of the museum and its ample courtyards, built to separate the different areas of this enormous manor house. All the rooms, for family or protocol use, have been preserved in their original state.
Former home of General Justo José de Urquiza
The Inside of the Palace
The dining-room of the mansion
Its large patios
Family life centered around the honor courtyard to which only illustrious guests gained access. Dignitaries such as President Domingo F. Sarmiento and other well-known personalities spent the night there during the political meetings hosted by Urquiza.
When we entered the room of mirrors, we stood in awe of the ceiling, reflecting everything that was happening below. One hundred pieces of French glass with imported wooden frames embedded in the ceiling were a clear indication of the grand rooms in which Urquiza received his visitors.
We then entered the small chapel with its gold plated cedar altar and a statue of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child. We delighted in its frescoes and Carrara marble baptismal font, a replica of one found at the Vatican.
The park surrounding this stately mansion is populated by trees planted during Urquiza’s time. Marble statues, fountains, bird-houses and even an artificial lake
tell us how much they enjoyed being outdoors. We learned that in these days of splendor a steam boat navigated the lake.
The palace witnessed some of the most important national political events. General Urquiza was a staunch supporter of federalism and participated in the national and institutional organization of the country. He was governor of the Province of Entre Ríos and later President of The Argentine Confederation.
Palacio San José was declared a National Historic Monument in 1935 due to its cultural and artistic value both of which seemed to come to life during our visit.
Mónica Pons Cristina Sabaliauskas - Welcomeargentina.com
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