Medellin architecture gems: Palacio Cultural Rafael Uribe Uribe

Built in 1925 as the then-home of the Antioquia state government, the “Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe” (or Rafael Uribe Culture Palace if you prefer English), has hosted some of Colombia’s most important political moments and is now a cultural center.

Visible from the Parque Berrio metro stop, the Palacio Cultural was originally the center of administrative power in Antioquia making it an integral part of Colombia’s cultural heritage and is currently home to the Antioquian Institute for Culture and Heritage.

Previously known as Calibio Palace, the building was renamed in 1987 in honor of a Colombian general who fought in the Thousand Days War, Rafael Uribe Uribe.

This Palace is located in the heart of the city Medellin and surrounded by other iconic spaces such as the Museum of Antioquia, Parque Berrio and the Basilica of Candelaria. With its fantastic, intricate, black and white bricks,  the Palacio Cultural truly stands out.

The complicated and beautiful design was created in 1925, when Colombian General Pedro Nel Ospina hired Belgian architect Agustin Goovaerts to design major public buildings in Antioquia.

In the original blueprint there were five floors with space for 315 offices, a large hall for the Departmental Assembly, a library and a museum. In reality, only a third of the plans made it to construction.

However the dome which stands high above Bolero Park is a masterpiece of mathematical architecture. Using metal supports from Belgium, the dome was modeled upon New York City skyscrapers, building the complicated structure using nuts and bolts, rather than traditional welding methods.

The building itself is named after Rafael Uribe Uribe, a conservative lawyer turned army general who became the Attorney General of Antioquia, before becoming a professor of constitutional law and political economy. Born in 1859, Uribe Uribe led a politically active life before being murdered by axe in 1914.

According to author Gabriel Garcia, the character of Colonel Aureliano Buendía in One Hundred Years of Solitude was based on Rafael Uribe Uribe. Garcia’s grandfather was under Uribe Uribe’s command in the Thousand Days War.

What to do there?

Visitors have access to photographic and musical archives, a café, library, documentation center, art gallery and the”Rafael Uribe Uribe” room. The dome is also used as an auditorium and projection room, and used to show films.


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