The answer is the obelisk of Buenos Aires, which was inspired by the more than 3,000 year old Luxor Obelisk, a gift from Egypt to France which is located in the centre of Paris. The architect Alberto Prebisch drew from this monument to find inspiration for Buenos Aires’ most famous landmark.
Construction of the obelisk, which now marks the intersection of 9 de Julio and Corrientes avenues, took just 31 days, involved 150 workers, cost 200,000 pesos, and was completed just days before the 126th anniversary of Argentina’s May Revolution in 1936.
At that time Avenida 9 de Julio didn’t exist and the site was surrounded by buildings. Days after the obelisk’s inauguration residents felt tremors and feared that the landmark was collapsing, but what they had felt was actually an earthquake which had its epicentre hundreds of kilometres away in San Luis. Despite this, there were still some frustrated attempts to have the obelisk removed.
And the motive for building such a structure in the first place? Although each of its four sides mention important moments in Argentine history, the main reason for its construction was the 500th anniversary of the first foundation of Buenos Aires in 1536. One side mentions this landmark, while the others commemorate the second foundation in 1580, the raising of the national flag for the first time, and the consolidation of Buenos Aires as the capital of Argentina in 1880.
The mayor of Buenos Aires at the time declared the obelisk to be the “embodiment of Buenos Aires’ soul”. A landmark that divided opinion has truly become an icon of the city.