Buenos Aires Travel Planet

Buenos Aires visitor’s guide

British Clock Tower

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Argentine Big Ben

In Buenos Aires, if you see a building that is built of red brick the chances are that it was built by the British. The French architects brought their delicate belle époque work, typically found in Recoleta and the Palermo Hippodrome, the Italians added a little colourful with corrugated metal in La Boca and the British, well, they brought red bricks.

The Torre de los Ingleses or British Clock Tower is an example of the British architectural presence in Buenos Aires. The clock tower was presented by the English to the City of Buenos Aires to celebrate Argentina’s first Centenary as a Republic, hence the name and why some people call it the Big Ben of BsAs.  The construction of the 75.50 metre tall tower began in 1909 and was not inaugurated until the 24th May, 1916, as work was delayed due to the First World War. The clock tower stands to attention in the centre of the Plaza of the Air Force in the Retiro neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.

british clock tower buenos airesAlthough it is popularly known as the ‘English Tower’, it is officially called the Monument Tower, as the original name was changed in the Eighties. After the controversial Falkland’s/Malvinas War, a campaign of renaming streets and monuments dedicated to British historical figures was launched. The names were instead changed to celebrate heroes of Argentine history, but the animosity did not end there. A few years after the Falkland’s war, on Remembrance Day of the conflict, the British clock tower came under attack from a swarm of anti-British protestors enraged about the Faulklands dispute. They tried to destroy the tower, managing to deface parts of the structure at its base, but luckily authorities stepped in to save the monument.

The British clock tower was restored and reopened to the public during the presidency of Fernando de la Rúa. Entrance is free and you can climb the four different staircases or take the lift that lead up to the octagonal turret at the top where you can hear the five bronze bells chiming every 15 minutes. There is not much to see in the interior of the tower, apart from a small tourist information booth, but the main attraction is the spectacular view from the top. The height of the tower allows you to see the surrounding area, which includes the port, Retiro railway station and San Martin Plaza. Check also in this Buenos Aires travel guide the Kavanagh building located in the same area as the Tower.

On top of the impressive views and stunning architecture, the British clock tower of Buenos Aires is the essential place to visit if you want to learn a little more about the complicated nature of British/Argentine history and politics.

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