Total Eclipse: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Festival of Science, Music, and Celestial Wonder. August 19–21, 2017 in Eastern Oregon.

Luanda, Angola

The Iron Palace

Did Gustav Eiffel design this enigmatic metal building?  

You might not know it from the outside, what with the loud, yellow paint job, but Angola’s Palácio de Ferro (Iron Palace) is made almost entirely of iron, and if the rumor is to be believed, it was the work of Gustav Eiffel. 

The true origin of the two-story building now known as the Iron Palace may be lost to time, but its arrival in Angola seems to have been just plain bad luck. Built some time in the late 1800s, the metal edifice is thought to have shown up on the Skeleton Coast after the ship carrying its prebuilt parts drifted off course and was claimed by Portuguese authorities. While there is no official record, it is believed that the building had been designed and built in Paris by the same man who created the Eiffel Tower. 

At first the building was used as a cultural center, but eventually it was abandoned and began to rust away in the humid air. For decades, the palace was neglected and began to deteriorate. However the building was revamped and repaired in the 2010s with the help of a diamond company as well as municipal funds, reopening its doors to visitors in 2016.

But the work isn’t done yet, as no one has yet decided how the building is to be used. The two options on the table now are for the building to be used as a diamond museum or as a huge restaurant. Either way, we might never truly know whether we have Gustav Eiffel to thank.    

Edit Place