on February 3, 2009
9 de Julio AvenueRunning from north to south across downtown Buenos Aires, the 9 de Julio Avenue is the widest in town and one of the widest in the world with an astonishing width of 140m. It was designed to cover a whole block and both avenues on its sides. In the north it begins next to the Illia Highway and the French Embassy, while in the south it connects with the 25 de Mayo Highway that leads to the Pistarini International Airport and the 9 de Julio Highway that leads to the popular beach resort of Mar del Plata. It was named in honor of the date in which the Argentinean independence was declared, July 9, 1816. Planned in 1895, the works began in 1937; the southern parts were finished only in 1980 after thousand of denizens were evacuated and their homes demolished.No traveler can avoid it while exploring Buenos Aires, since the avenue is one of the main arteries of the city. The line "C" of the "Subte" – the subway – runs along it and connects with the lines "A," "B," "D" and "E" that are roughly perpendicular to it. Thus reaching the avenue is not only easy, but almost unavoidable. An important navigational point to remember is that it is the only street that keeps its name on both sides of the Rivadavia Avenue.Moreover, it hosts at least two main monuments of the city, the Teatro Colon and Obelisco, it crosses the Retiro (the main travel hub in the city, see dedicated entry in this journal), San Nicolás, Monserrat y Constitución neighborhoods and crosses the Santa Fe, Córdoba, Corrientes, de Mayo, Belgrano, Independencia, San Juan avenues, all of them important streets.It takes so long to cross it – since the different lights are not synchronized – that the event provides a golden opportunity for taking pictures and enjoying the sights.Obelisco Located at the junction of 9 de Julio with Corrientes avenues, on what is known as the "Plaza de la República," the "Obelisco" is one of the most distinctive sights of the city. Its location amidst the widest avenue in the city contributes to the dramatic setup of the monument. Before its construction, a church dedicated to San Nicolas de Bari was on the site; there, the Argentinean flag was hoisted for the first time in Buenos Aires. Thus, the monument partially commemorates the Argentinean flag.The obelisk rises to a height of 67.5m and a width of 6.8m at its base. It was constructed in 1936 with a white type of stone brought from Cordoba. The construction was very fast; it began on March of that year and was ended in May by a German construction company. At its bottom, is a little door that leads through 206 steps to the four windows near its top; sadly, this part is not open to visitors. The monument is covered with cement, what looks like the connection points of the building stones are actually simulated.Each one of its faces commemorates a different event: the first foundation of Buenos Aires in 1536, the second foundation in 1580, the national flag created by Belgrano in Rosario and hoisted here in 1812 and the final election of Buenos Aires as the Argentinean capital in 1880.Disliked by the people, there was an attempt to demolish it by the municipality in 1938; however, since it was defined as a national monument, the attempt was thwarted. Eventually, denizens got used to the phallic monument and during one of the International AIDS days it was even covered with a giant condom. In 2007 it was decorated with the German and Argentinean flags in commemoration of the bilateral relations; it being of German construction transformed it into a good symbol for that. It is often used as a place for political and sportive demonstrations and meetings.Teatro ColonLocated on 9 de Julio Avenue near the Obelisco, the Colon Theatre is an imposing structure that defines much of the European ambience of downtown Buenos Aires. The actual structure is the second theater, the original one was in Plaza de Mayo. The cornerstone of the present building was laid down in 1889 and opened in May 25, 1908.Featuring 2487 seats it is larger than the Royal Opera House in London, while its acoustics are considered to be among the best in the world. The structure is Italian in design (by the architect Tamburini) and French in decoration (by the Belgian Dormal). The list of composers and performers that visited the theatre is awesome. Among the composers are Igor Stravinsky and Richard Strauss, while the list of performers includes Plácido Domingo and many ballet stars, including Anna Pavlova, Nureyev, Baryshnikov and Plisetskaya. Until 2010 it is closed for restoration works.
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