Obelisk of Buenos Aires

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires (Spanish: Obelisco de Buenos Aires) is a national historic monument and icon of Buenos Aires. Located in the Plaza de la República, in the intersection of avenues Corrientes and 9 de Julio, it was built to commemorate the fourth centenary of the first foundation of the city.


In order to enrich the surroundings of the iconic monument, the government of the city started the project Punto Obelisco. Creating a zone full of LED signs. Since the Obelisk of the city is always associated with the night and entertainment of Buenos Aires, this project creates a zone similar to Times Square in New York and Picadilly Circus in London.


History

Construction began on March 20, 1936 and was inaugurated on May 23 of the same year. It was designed by architect Alberto Prebisch (one of the main architects of the Argentine modernism who also designed the Teatro Gran Rex, in Corrientes and Suipacha) at the request of the mayor Mariano de Vedia y Mitre (appointed by president Agustín Pedro Justo). For its construction, which cost 200,000 pesos moneda nacional, 680 m³ of concrete and 1360 m² of Olaen white stone from Córdoba were used.


The obelisk was built by the German company G.E.O.P.E. - Siemens Bauunion - Grün & Bilfinger, which completed its work in a record time of 31 days, with 157 workers. The rapid hardening Incor cement was used and was built in sections of 2 meters to facilitate the dumping of concrete.


Its height is 67.5 m, and 63 m of these are up to the initiation of the apex, which is 3.5 m by 3.5 m. The tip is blunt, measuring 40 cm and ends in a lightning rod that can not be seen because of the height, whose cables run through the interior of the obelisk.


It has only one entrance (in its west side) and on its top there are four windows, that can only be reached by a straight staircase of 206 steps with 7 breaks every 8-6 m.


On February 20 1938, Roberto María Ortiz succeeded Justo and appointed Arturo Goyenche as the new mayor of the city. In June 1939 the City Council sanctioned the demolition of the Obelisco, citing economic, aesthetic and public safety reasons. However, the ordinance was vetoed by the municipal executive power, characterizing it as an act lacking of value and juridical content, because it alters the state of things emanated by the executive power, and that it was a monument under the jurisdiction and custody of the Nation whose heritage belongs to it.


Where the Obelisco stands, a church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari was previously demolished. In that church the argentine flag was officially hoisted for the first time in Buenos Aires, 1812. That fact is noted in one of the inscriptions on the north side of the monument.


As a result of some detachments of stone cladding, which occurred on the night of 20 to 21 June 1938, the day after a public event with the presence of president Ortiz took place there, it was decided to remove such cladding in 1943 and was replaced by another one made of polished cement, making cracks to simulate the joints of the stones. When the slabs were removed, a lenged that said <<Its arquitect was Alberto Prebisch>> was also removed.


For some time during the 1970s, during the Peronist government of Isabel Martínez de Perón, a ring-shaped sign was hung around the obelisk, with the motto El silencio es salud (Silence is health). Although it was allegedly geared against motorists creating excessive noise, it was widely interpreted as a statement calling Argentines to refrain from expressing their political views.


Throughout its history, the monument has suffered vandalism, especially politically-oriented graffiti. In the 1980s, an activist group broke in and spilled paint from the top windows, causing the city government to erect a fence around its base. This move stirred controversy, but eventually proved effective in reducing the number of defacing incidents.


On 1 November 2005 it was announced that a comprehensive restoration, financed by the Argentine painting and restoration industry association (Ceprara), was finished. The monument was painted with 90-micrometre acrylic paint to a "Paris stone" hue, deemed more pleasant than the previously used white.


On December 1, 2005, the obelisk was covered by a giant pink "condom" to commemorate the World AIDS day.


To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the La Noche de los Lápices, the monument was converted into a giant pencil.


Lines B, C, and D of the Buenos Aires Metro have stations near the monument, and are connected by a number of underground passages with commercial galleries.


Inscriptions on its sides

On the side facing south, in its base in a very small rectangle, this sonnet written by Baldomero Fernández Moreno during a tribute dinner in the Alvear Palace Hotel to Prebisch:


Special occasions

Building Activity

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