Best of Buenos Aires: the famous Elizabethan-style English Tower, now called the Monumental Tower is located next to the Plaza San Martin in Barrio Retiro.
English Tower (Monumental Tower)
The English Tower (Torre de Los Ingleses) is the contribution of British residents from Buenos Aires to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Argentinean revolution of the 26th of May.
It was a generous attempt to express thankfulness to the newly adopted country for the opportunities it offered to the British community.
As the matter of fact, it was not an isolated act of appreciation because other communities of immigrants (Italian, Spanish and German…) came up with similar tributes.
For example, Italians raised the monument to Garibaldi in the center of the Plaza Italia).
Situated in the center of the British Square (Plaza Britannia) in front of the railroad station Retiro, the tower was designed by an English architect Sir Ambrose Poynter. As an “all-British” donation, the tower was built by British engineers Hopkins and Gardom, entirely with materials imported from England (only sand and water were local). The tower’s cornerstone was laid in late 1910 but it took long 6 years to complete the structure which was finally inaugurated on May 24th, 1916.
English Tower dominates the Air Force Square (next to the Plaza San Martin)
Argentinean Big Ben
The square-footprint tower is built in an Elizabethan-style and reaches a height of 75.5m (247ft). It is topped by an octagonal copper-roofed cupola.
The tower stands on a platform with access stairs on each side. The main entrance on the west-side is decorated with the emblems of the British Empire –Thistle of Scotland, Tudor’s (English) Rose, Welsh Dragon, and Irish Shamrock (three-leafed clover).
Above the main entrance there are shields of Argentina and Great Britain and an inscription:
“Al gran pueblo argentino, los residentes británicos.
Salud, 25 de Mayo, 1810-1910”
It can be translated as “To the Great Argentinean Nation (People) from the British residents, May 25, 1810-1910”.
On the upper part of the tower just above the balcony, there are four quadrants of the clock and five bronze bells. The biggest bell is a replica of the Westminster Abbey one – for that reason, the tower is sometimes called the Argentinean Big Ben (or Argentinean Clock Tower). The weather vane crowning the dome represents the British frigate from the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Main entrance to the tower - above the emblems of the British Empire
Commemorative Inscription in front of the English Tower seems to relate to the 19th-century British invasion. In fact, it was here where the local forces defended the city from the attack (subsequently the area was named "Fields of Glory").
During the late 1990s, the tower underwent a well-deserved restoration. The most impressive part – a glass lift with the original British machinery opened to the public access the 6th floor offering the panoramic view over the district of Retiro. In 2006 the upper levels were once again closed and sadly it seems that nothing changed as of January 2011.
In 1982, after the Islas Malvinas/Falklands Islands War, the War Memorial was established across the street on the Plaza San Martin. The names of fallen Argentinean soldiers engraved on the red marble are a permanent reminder of the British battle with Argentina. Consequently, the English Tower was renamed Monumental Tower (Torre Monumental) and the British Square changed the name to Plaza Fuerza Aérea (Air Force Square).
Las Malvinas/Falkland Islands War Memorial facing the English Tower located just across the street.
The location of the War Memorial in front of the former English Tower donated by British residents creates mixed emotions. For some, it seems to be a wrong place for the War Memorial, others somehow jokingly (if you can really make jokes in such place) promote the idea that these fallen soldiers stay as a guard tirelessly watching the “British frigate” if it is not coming back. Certainly, both parts may have many reasons to feel this way…
We should only hope that history will not repeat itself.
Famous Buenos Aires Railroad Station - El Retiro.
View from the behind of the Memorial towards the English Tower (Monumental Tower).
Monumental (English) Tower in all its beauty
And here is ending our Plaza San Martin walking tour offered by Free Best Buenos Aires Places Pictures.
I'm sure that there is more to see, marvel at, and/or admire in the center of Barrio Retiro...
Certainly, I would like to encourage everybody to have a chance to visit Buenos Aires to reserve at least one entire day to fully appreciate this beautiful historical area.
Hasta la Vista Amigos !
I also hope that you enjoyed the tour and possibly will come back to these pages to refresh your memory, take some shots (pictures) or prepare yourself for the trip to Argentina.
And the best is - at any time you can re-visit any of the following points of interest at Plaza San Martin, just make the choice from the selection below:
To start the Buenos Aires Walking Tour from the overview of the Plaza San Martin, see maps, learn the history of this famous place, click on the left picture, or select the following link:
Free San Martin Plaza Walking Tours Pictures (page 1)
To find out who was General José de San Martin and see the imposing monument glorifying his South-American achievements please click on the left picture or select the following link:
Monument to General Jose de San Martin    (page 2)
To read the story of the Anchorenas - once the wealthiest and most influential dynasty in Argentina, make the tour of their beautiful mansion next to the Plaza San Martin and see it all in the pictures, please click on the left photo or select the link:
Plaza San Martin - Anchorena Palace (page 3)
To visit the most beautiful church in Buenos Aires - the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament, church intended to be a “Tabernacle” of the city, the place of prayer and reconciliation, an oasis of silence and peace - please click on the left picture or select the link:
Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament   (page 4)
To learn the story behind the construction of the Kavanagh Building (love, betrayal, and "sweet revenge" by red-hair Irish girl Corina), see the pictures of this engineering marvel from the beginning of the 20th century, please click the left picture or select the link:
Kavanagh Building (page 5)
If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)
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