Muñoz Gamero Square

Muñoz Gamero Square. Punta Arenas - CHILE

Shortly after the founding of Fort Bulnes, in 1843, it was discovered that the location of this enclave designed to reaffirm the sovereignty of Chile in the Strait of Magellan did not meet conditions for its settlement. The floor was little suited to cultivation, and where the climate in southern were felt particularly hard. Hence, the governor of the colony, Jose Santos Mardones, decided in 1848 to his transfer on grounds the city of Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas maintained during its early settlement its military character, which was added to the penal colony. This made her square in the beginning did not fulfill the role that fit into the generality of Hispanic cities such as computer center core of urban space and social life, commercial and civic life. He will fulfill that role fully later, after the city experienced under European immigration a total transformation.

Thanks to the wealth generated by mining, ranching, fishing and the shipping and trade, Punta Arenas is expression changed and became the face that launched today. Since the 1880s, the powerful local magnates built in the vicinity of the plaza residences and business premises, prompting the authorities for construction at the site of new public buildings of greater prominence than before.

The square is named after the governor Benjamin Muñoz Gamero, who found tragic death in a bloody riot initiated by the Lieutenant Michael Joseph Cambiazo in the troubled year of 1851. Crusade for diagonal paths and shaded by magnificent birch and cypress trees in the center is a splendid bronze monument dedicated to Ferdinand Magellan, which was donated by the wealthy Jose Menendez, marking the fourth anniversary of the discovery of the strait. On the south side of the square is the elegant iron kiosk was installed as part of the centennial celebration of Independence in 1910.

The decree of declaration includes both square and all the buildings that surround it. On the west side is the Mother Church, which currently holds the rank of Cathedral, which was inaugurated and blessed in 1901. At the other end of the block is the building of three floors of brick masonry, which since the late nineteenth century housed the governor of the colony, between this and the church building was erected later the governors house.

On the north side is the beautiful Palacio Sara Braun, built in 1895 by the widow of billionaire Joseph Nogueira to house his residence. French-style and generous landscaping, the building is deeply evocative and representative of the history of the city. In the other half of the block, the pioneer Jose Menendez had built in the 1910s, his residence and the headquarters of his business enterprise, the work of French architects, like that of its neighbor. In the block opposite, the firm Braun & Blanchard had built a few years before its headquarters, according to the same aesthetic rules than before. In the southwest corner now stands the building that currently hosts the ENAP, built in the 1950s by CORFO, is the first tall building in the city (8 stories), and it is not dissonant with the whole. Between them lies the estate which now houses the Town Hall, built housing for the wealthy rancher Jose Montes. On the south side of the square, the buildings built early in the century to now house banks, in this same block is the Hotel Cabo de Hornos, erected by order of the Tierra del Fuego Cattle Society in the 1960s.

Munoz Gamero Square is now an urban ensemble of exceptional heritage value, which embodies the story of the hardworking people of Magellan.

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