The Obelisco Buenos Aires is perhaps the best-known and most iconic structure in all of Argentina. It took 31 days to construct in 1936 and was built in order to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding Buenos Aires. The Obelisk of Buenos Aires is difficult to miss (not that you would want to) for several reasons. First, it is a formidable 220 feet high, and is not altogether dissimilar from the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. Second, it is located at the intersection of two of the largest and widest streets in the world: Avenida Corrientes and Nueve de Julio. The portenos (native Argentine residents of Buenos Aires) refer to the impressive construct simply as El Obelisco. Its exact position is at the center of the Plaza de la Republica. The site has many functions and purposes and has served as a gathering place for political demonstrations, celebrations, and uprisings in the past.
The Plaza de la Republica is a vibrant and busy area that features a range of shopping outlets, restaurants, clubs, bars, and cafes. When the Argentine national soccer team is in action, especially during the FIFA World Cup, the Plaza and the Obelisco Buenos Aires are the gathering points for throngs of excited fans who get together adorned in the soft blue and white colors of Argentina to celebrate a win, or collectively mourn a loss. Soccer is a like a national religion in Argentina, just as it is in many other countries in South America including Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Venezuela. These are the nice memories associated with the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, although there has not always been peace at the root of the gatherings that have taken place there.
The monument has a place in the history of Buenos Aires as well. In the 1970s, during the Peron era, signs hung from the Obelisco Buenos Aires that read Silence is Health. Although the government placated the people by assuring them that it was merely an attempt to reduce the noise pollution brought about by the many bikers zooming past the national monument, many portenos took it to be a warning to all Argentine people not to express their own political views. The fence around the monument was placed there after a political demonstration involving the monument. The Plaza de la Republica has seen its share of amazing celebrations and displays of national pride and unity, as well as political unrest.
The main attraction in the Plaza de la Republica was restored in 2005 and painted an off-white color referred to as Paris stone. This replaced the one-time white hue of the Obelisk of Buenos Aires. It is well worth a visit to this historic national monument, and if you are already planning to stay anywhere near the downtown area, it is easy to find due to its height and makes a nice landmark as you make your way through town. With all of the shopping, tango dancing, dining, and entertainment on Nueve de Julio and Avenida Corrientes, you will not have to go too far out of your way at all to find your way to the Obelisk. The B, C, and D Metro lines all have specific stops at the Plaza de la Republica.