Saturday, 4 January 2014

Punta Arenas, a city of monuments

A public monument can be defined as any historic building or structure that is part of a urban or rural core and is of importance to the community or group where it is located.

There are different types of monuments, they usually are bust, statue, obelisk, monolith, cenotaph, sculpture, mural, may be of archaeological, historic or artistic value being usually displayed in a public place such as square, avenue, public administration building, etc.

Every city has its characteristic monuments which silently tell us about local history or remember characters or some interesting event. How many monuments do you know in your city? Perhaps this post will stimulate you to know a few more.. or all of them.

In Punta Arenas too the monuments tell us a lot about its culture, wealth and of course about its illustrious characters. One of the best loved and iconic monument of the city is The Shepherd Monument as the sheep farming is one of the main economic activities of the Region of Magellan, currently the region exports 10.000 tons of wool and 7.000 tons of lamb meat annually.
The monument is the type bronze sculpture and contains twelve figures in natural size: the shepherd with his dog and his horse, and the herd of the sheep.
The monument is a tribute to the man of the field of Region of Magellan who struggle constantly against the wind and cold whether to watch the flocks. It was inaugurated 18 February 1944, originally in granite but later replaced by bronze to ensure its permanence in time. The granite version was donated to the city of Coyhaique, Region of Aysén.

However the most visited, I would say, is the monument to Ferdinand Magellan which is located in the central square of the city and was inaugurated in celebration of the 4th centenary of the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan to the strait that bears his name and therefore the discovery of Chile.
It is made of bronze and concrete, 9 meters high and on the top of the monument a statue of Ferdinand of Magellan standing on the bow of the ship looking toward the strait. At the base two statues representing the indigenous Ona and Tehuelches and a mermaid with the Spanish and Chilean coat of arms. Also an earth globe and the diary representing the first voyage around the world.

Visiting Punta Arenas you will hear about a urban legend related to the Ona statue.
It is said that a Spanish sailor that was sent to work in Punta Arenas for a period of time liked so much that statue that he had it tattooed on his chest. The work was so well done that the image seemed to come alive every movement that the sailor did, but what really drew attention was the movement of the toe when the man moved his chest with great grace.
The man was so proud of his tattoo that he even used to speak to it looking directly into the mirror. So when the day to return to Spain came he looked the tattoo reflected in the mirror and consulted if his business back home would be successful and with a small movement with his arm the toe moved affirmatively.
Happy with the response went to the port and passing through the square looked the monument and touching his chest said: "Here in my chest I will take you with me, my friend. I want to be strong like you." And touching the foot of the statue said: "Wish me lucky". And kissing the toe said goodbye.
Months later the sailor returned to Punta Arenas radiant with joy saying that his business prospered very fast.
Since then people use to come to the square to touch the foot of the statue to get lucky and also visitors kiss the toe believing it will bring them back to Punta Arenas.
If you visit Punta Arenas someday you will see the polish that the indigenous' foot has received from the people who visit Muñoz Gamero square.

Another interesting monument is known as The Embrace of the Strait which is a remembrance of the end of the southern boundary conflict between Chile and Argentina. The case was taken to an international court in USA and arbitrated by queen Victoria of England, in 1898.
In order to seal the deal between the two countries the presidents of Argentina and Chile, Julio Roca and Federico Errazuriz, set up a meeting that took place aboard of the Chilean frigate Bernardo O'higgins anchored on the coast of Punta Arenas city.
The meeting took place between 15-17 February 1899 and both presidents expressed their desires of peace and friendship between the two nations and sealed the agreement shaking their hands warmly. The event is known in history as the embrace of the strait.

The clock of the Port or The Clock of the Strait located at the entrance of the Arthuro Prat pier is an iron pyramidal structure of about 4 meters high. The clock was purchased in German in 1922 for 3000  marks and delivered to Punta Arenas in 1913.
The clock has four faces, 2 in Roman numerals and 2 in Arabic numbers, has an automatic moon phase indicator, a monthly calendar with the zodiac signs, a Lambrecht's holosferic barometer, a thermohygroscopy, a thermographer, a barometer, a thermometer that indicate maximum and minimum temperature and a weather vane with the four cardinal points.
There are very few like this in the world so it is a true gem for antique lovers and clock lovers.

The Condor: it is a 6m high concrete, stone and bronze statue as a tribute to the centenary of the independence of Chile from Spain.
The independence is symbolised by the condor cutting the chains that prevented him from flying.
The condor is a national bird and represents strength in the national emblem.

South Compass: 5 meters, metal sculpture symbolising the direction of the south wind in the Strait of Magellan.

Monument to Oil: 8 meter sculpture in stone and metal commemorating the discovery of oil in the Region of Magellan in 1945.

The Uruguayan obelisk: this monument was a gift from Uruguayan colony in Punta Arenas in commemoration of the centenary of Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan.
This pink marble obelisk stands 6 meters high in the Uruguay square.

There are also three busts which are a tribute to literature.
Gabriela Mistral: teacher, diplomat and poet. She was the first Latin American, and fifth woman, to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, also she received the National Literature Prize.

Jose Grimaldi: He is a beloved late poet of the region and his poems were the inspiration for the creation of the monument to shepherd and oil.

Marko Marulic: father of Croatian literature. The monument is a gift from Punta Arenas' sister city, Split.
(see post: Croatian immigration in the Region of Magellan)

Monument Plaza of the Flags: it is a tribute to the 16 European nations that participated in the colonisation of the Region of Magellan.
The monument is a set of 19 flags: 16 European flags, a national flag, a regional flag and provincial flag.

My favourite monument: The Totems, located in the Costanera del Estrecho avenue. The monument is a deserved tribute to the indigenous people who first inhabited the Region of Magellan.

Punta Arenas has a total of 60 monuments registered according to rules of national monuments registration, and they are 8 statues, 17 busts, 12 monoliths, 5 historical monuments, 12 sculptures and 5 murals.
If you would like to know more about that click the link below:

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