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Visiting the Obelisk, Montevideo, Uruguay: noted structure commemorating the framers of the Uruguayan Constitution, 1830

Updated on September 18, 2014
Flag of Uruguay
Flag of Uruguay | Source
The Obelisk, Montevideo, Uruguay
The Obelisk, Montevideo, Uruguay | Source
Statue representing Strength, Obelisk, Montevideo, Uruguay, by José Luis Zorilla de San Martín
Statue representing Strength, Obelisk, Montevideo, Uruguay, by José Luis Zorilla de San Martín | Source
Map location of Montevideo, Uruguay
Map location of Montevideo, Uruguay | Source

Focal point for historical remembrance

This structure and major landmark of Montevideo, Uruguay, was the work of José Luis Zorilla de San Martín (1891-1975)(1). Built to commemorate the framers of the Uruguayan Constitution of 1830, it was inaugurated in 1938.

Executed in granite, the Obelisk (Spanish: Obelisco ) is 40 metres tall. A three-sided structure, three allegorical statues are affixed to its base. These statues, in bronze, represent Law, Liberty and Strength. A hexagonal pool and fountain area surrounds the base of the monument.

In 1983, towards the end of the period of civilian-military rule which had begun in 1973, many thousands people converged peacefully on the Obelisk to assert a desire for a return to Constitutional rule. Some estimates put the number of participants in the event as 400,000. This event is often cited as the beginning of the end of civilian-military rule, while there had already been some measure of free electoral activity in that in 1980 the electorate had voted against the civilian-military government's proposed Constitutional measures; and elections had already taken place in internal party primaries in 1982, in preparation for national elections. In 1984, Julio María Sanguinetti (1936-) was elected President of Uruguay, as were members of a new legislature.

The structure is located at the eastern end of the central road artery in Downtown Montevideo, Avenida 18 de julio , at this avenue's junction with Bulevar Artigas . (Artigas Boulevard)(2). Significantly, Avenida 18 de julio (July 18) recalls the date in 1830 when Uruguay's Constitution was signed by its framers.

May 5, 2012


(1) Other works by Sculptor Zorilla de San Martín include the statue of General Artigas at Montevideo's central railroad station, and the tomb of Monsignor Mariano Soler, Montevideo's first Archbishop. (Biographical note: The sculptor was from a prominent Uruguayan family. His father, Juan Zorilla de San Martín, was known as Uruguay's national poet. His daughter, China Zorilla, is a noted actress. A nephew, Alejandro Zorilla de San Martín, served as Uruguay's foreign minister.)

(2) José Gervasio Artigas (1764-1850) is credited by Uruguayans as their principal independence leader, and is often referred to as el Prócer , meaning, 'the eminent one'.

Also worth seeing

Montevideo 's many visitor attractions include: Independence Square (Spanish: Plaza Independencia ), with its Artigas Mausoleum, Independence Building (the former Estévez Palace); the Ciudalela entrance, and the Palacio Salvo ; the Legislative Palace (Spanish: Palacio Legislativo); the Cerro Fortress; and many others.


How to get there: LanChile flies to Montevideo , Uruguay from North American destinations including New York and Toronto . The Uruguayan airline PLUNA, which codeshares with VARIG, flies to a number of Latin American regional destinations. Car rental is available at Montevideo Carrasco International airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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