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Visiting the Monumental Tower, Buenos Aires, Argentina: the Argentinian identity of a clock tower
Part of the Buenos Aires skyline for more than a century
The naming of this striking clock tower in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has undergone significant development since its inception in 1916. It is the Monumental Tower (Spanish: Torre Monumental). While informally it is sometimes still referred to as the Tower of the English (Spanish: Torre de los Ingeles), its undoubted official name in recent decades is the Monumental Tower, reflecting its Argentinian character.
The developing Argentinian identity of the Tower did in fact begin from its inception when the local British community (from where the funding for its construction came) formally gave over the structure to President of Argentina Victorino de la Plaza (1840-1919) at a ceremony in 1916.
The immediate reason for the building of the Tower was to commemorate the centenary of Argentinian independence in 1910. Preparations were indeed underway in 1909; but various reasons including the death of British King Edward VII in 1910 and the outbreak of World War One combined to delay the structure's completion.
At its inception, in a prominent inscription, the Tower was dedicated to the Argentinian people.
The clock tower is executed in Palladian style in a combination of brick, Portland stone and copper (for the cupola), the work of Sir Ambrose M. Poynter (1867-1923), selected after a competition held in Buenos Aires in 1910 at the former Salón del Bon Marché, now known as the Galerías Pacífico. Among the symbols carved on the Tower - some of them British - is a coat of arms of Argentina (of which I have supplied a photo).
It is situated in Plaza Fuerza Aérea Argentina (Argentiian Air Force Square), in the Retiro suburb, opposite the entrances to three railroad station of the same name (1). Close to the Tower is a memorial to the Argentinian Fallen of the Malvinas/Falklands War of 1982.
As if to reinforce the interest of the Argentinian authorities in the Tower and its Argentinian character, Buenos Aires Mayor Fernando de la Rúa (1937-), later President of Argentina, undertook an extensive program to refurbish the Tower.
It is therefore clear that from its inception to its upkeep, the Tower has been actively identified with the Argentinian authorities.
In a city with many fine monuments and buildings, the Monumental Tower thus maintains a significant profile in the the Buenos Aires skyline.
May 15, 2017
NB: Some of this site's applications do not support non-English accents; some of the Spanish words thus omit these accents.
Also worth seeing
Visitor attractions Buenos Aires abound, but some of these include: the Casa Rosada seat of government and the Metropolitan Cathedral, both facing Plaza de Mayo; the Congress Palace; the Obelisk and July 9 Avenue. Travellers to Buenos Aires may also find an excursion convenient to Montevideo (distance: 230.4 kilometres) in neighbouring Uruguay.
How to get there : United Airlines flies from Washington-Dulles Airport to Ministro Pistarini International Airport (or: 'Ezeiza'; Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini), Buenos Aires , where car rental is available. You are advised to check with appropriate consular sources regarding any visa requirements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date travel information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
A mine of information - some of them lesser-known items - about Argentina's huge and sedate capital.
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