Shah vs IRI in Buenos Aires


Shah vs IRI in Buenos Aires
by Jahanshah Javid

Yesterday I got on a tour bus to get myself familiar with Buenos Aires. At various stops the audio recording gave a brief history of significant landmarks. Many of them majestic monuments built in the early 20th century. The National Assembly. The opera house. The central bank. Several museums. All I heard were the names of Italian and French architects. No wonder Argentinians consider themselves European first, Latin American last.

When the bus reached the Palermo neighborhood, our group of tourists listened to stories about several massive statues surrounded by parks along wide avenues lined with big bushy trees. Hey! But what about the huge Persian column we just passed? The audio guide was silent.

It was surprising, to say the least, to see a replica of a Persepolis column, with a sitting bull on top, in Buenos Aires. I got off the nearest station and walked towards the monument rising in the middle of a dozen or so tall fan palm trees. I thought this had to be a gift from the Shah, never the persophobic Islamic Republic. Nobody would erect such a thing here for artistic reasons. There had to be a political catch.

I looked it up. The Shah had built good relations with Argentina as a supplier of enriched uranium -- and technical know how -- when Iran's nuclear energy industry was getting started in the early 1970s. According to an Argentinian information page:

When you reach Iran’s square, placed between Figueroa Alcorta Avenue, Sarmiento Avenue, Casares Avenue and Berro Street, you will find a monumental column known as the “Column of the Persian Temple”.

It is a replica of one of the columns of Cyrus’ Palace in Persepolis, constructed in between the VIth and Vth centuries b.C. by Darius and Xerxes.

The column was donated by the Persian Shah during one of his visits, along with the Empress Farah Pahlevi, to Argentina. It is 19 meters tall and is crowned by two bullheads.

The Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires, Saturnino Montero Ruiz, thanked this gift on March the 3rd, 1972. However, the 6 containers in which the 102 thousand kilogram column was held were delivered by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires to the firm in charge of placing it where it can be found today, 6 years later, on the 21st of December, 1976.

The construction of the column was made out of casts of the original conic column, which was then filled, with a mixture of cement and pulverized stone from the same place where the ruins of the Palace are located in Iran.

Moving away from Iran’s column, but also in Iran’s square, you will find a Persian lion. It is a beautiful work from the talented Argentine plastic artist: Blas Salvador Gurrieri.

I didn't see the "Persian Lion" in "Iran Sq." but borrowed a photo of it.

Argentina continued to supply Iran with 20% enriched uranium, despite American objections, with the approval of the IAEA, for many years after the 1979 revolution. I'm not sure when or if they stopped, but my guess is they have. But relations between the two countries continue to be friendly, relatively speaking, although I think it's limited to mostly agricultural exports to Iran. I presume Argentina also buys Iranian oil.

Relations got rather complicated when huge bombs exploded outside the Israeli Embassy (1992) and a Jewish community center (1994), killing more than a hundred and injuring 350 or so. Iranian agents and/or Lebanese Hezbollah allies have been blamed (who else?). The case is still under investigation with Argentinian prosecutors and politicians making vague statements once or twice a year.

Then last week I learned of the existence of another Iranian landmark. One of my house-mates said he had seen a building a few blocks away in our Palermo neighborhood housing a school run by the Islamic Republic. You're kidding! A few blocks away? I've got to check it out.

We walked over to José Antonio Cabrera Ave. today and sure enough, there it was: "Escuela Nº 13 D.E. 02 - República Islámica de Irán". A six-story building which appeared to be closed for the holidays (schools reopen in March). A couple of people could be seen on the ground floor behind the front metal screen. The school probably serves the children of embassy staff and other Iranians living in Buenos Aires.

Now I'm hoping to find an Iranian restaurant. Someone told me he saw one during a recent visit. I'll find it! I must. I miss ghormeh sabzi with lots of piaz :) >>> photo essay


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I saw this column as well

by yek_nafar on

I remember when I was there the tour bus went right passed it.  I looked up and I thought I must be dreaming this, specially since they are about 15 min drive from the city center.  I was thinking what is this doing here and immediatly thought it must be a gift from the shah.  At the time I couldn't find any articles or even pictures of it.  I searched today, five years after seeing it and found your article. Great article and thanks for sharing.

Esfand Aashena

Looks like they forgot the columns were part of a building!

by Esfand Aashena on

As we say in Farsi, watering can and pan 7 sets, lunch and dinner nothing!  A column in the middle of a tropical country's traffic!  So proud of our columns!  Maybe they can be marketed on Amazon! 

Everything is sacred


Thank you JJ

by Souri on

One more time, I have to thank you for the cultural teaching. It is great to see people like yourself, who are still interested to the culture. To see this in these pages today, is like breathing a fresh air,  in a closed room.

Jahanshah Javid

Maydan Argentine

by Jahanshah Javid on

Souri, Maydan Argentine in Tehran was probably built for the same reason/purpose and at the same time. Promoting relations. Governments often do these cultural exchanges.


Meidan Argentine in Tehran (?)

by Souri on

One question,

We had that circle (Meidan Argentin) in Tehran which has been built also around the 72. Does anybody know the history/story? What was it and why they made that Circle at the same time of the Persian Column in Argentina?

Jahanshah Javid

March 3rd!

by Jahanshah Javid on

Hah! Thanks Souri for noticing the date. What a funny coincidence :) I was 10 in 1972.

I'm glad you liked the blog and photos. I hope it makes readers want to visit this part of the world. It's truly special.


Thanks Mash Ghasem! If I don't notice Iranian things in foreign lands, who will? :)



Shah gave your BD gift to Argentina?!!

by Souri on

Dear JJ,

I really enjoyed reading your blog last night. It was as if I were there, myself. You are a great reporter. Although the photo essay didn't work last night, but now I saw them.

It is great to see that in most countries, there's a name or a trace of Iran, as a memorial. Personally, I feel proud when I see these things. You have a great sharp eye for finding these traces, as MG has mentioned. I remember even you had noticed the ancient map of the region, on the wall of the ruines in Rome. You got the picture to show us that the Persian Golf, has been named as the "Persian" even in that era, according to the map.

We are grateful to you for all these discoveries and sharing them with us.

BTW- March 3, is your birth date! How old were you in 1972? That was your BD gift which Shah brought there for you discover it now, 40 years later :)


Tiger Lily

For future reference, JJ

by Tiger Lily on

Read up on some Freud, and many others, in particular about severe male sexual problems and the intended pun of erecting monuments, in particular columns.

I can't remember the book titles, or I would have recommended one.

Mash Ghasem

JJ, you keep going with your discoveries of things Persian

by Mash Ghasem on

outside of Iran, you'll probably end up in the Guinness book of records, for world discoverer of thing Persian outside of Iran!

First it was those seeds from Iran, brought over to US by Jefferson, or was it Madison? and now the Perspolis column in Argentina, next...

While you're in Buenos Aires, if you get a chance also check out a few of the factories and hotels in there, that are run by the workers themselves. If time permitting.

These are the bussineses that the owners left behind during the economic crisis, and the workers took over themselves, and have been running them ever since. And they say workers can't run their own factories!

If you find Ghormez Sabzi, order one with extra Limo Aamani!

Jahanshah Javid

Fan palms

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks AO for the correction. Fan palms they are!

Anonymous Observer

And those aren't date palms

by Anonymous Observer on

I think they're some sort of a fan palm.  Here's a comparison of different palm trees:


I don't think that date palms grow in BA.  The climate is too wet.  Date palms need a dry, desert like climate to grow and / or bear fruit.   

Anonymous Observer

That's why no one should EVER trust the criminal, terrorist IR

by Anonymous Observer on

But relations between the two countries continue to be friendly, relatively speaking, although I think it's limited to mostly agricultural exports to Iran. I presume Argentina also buys Iranian oil.

Relations got rather complicated when huge bombs exploded outside the Israeli Embassy (1992) and a Jewish community center (1994), killing more than a hundred and injuring 350 or so. Iranian agents and/or Lebanese Hezbollah allies have been blamed (who else?).

You befriend them, give them and inch and they take advantage of you in order to achieve their terrorist goals.  

Jahanshah Javid

Impressive landmark

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Shemirani. The column is indeed quite impressive. It's a major landmark in Buenos Aires, probably the tallest in the whole city after the obelisk in Plaza de la República.



by Shemirani on

More you travel more we learn things as well, so thanks for Sharing it!

I really think the King of Iran was a true avant-gardiste, faratar az hameye ma midid ! i 'm sure he knew with leaving a trace of our culture or our name around the globe he will make next generations happy and proud ! i'm glad he did that ! i already knew Bueno Aires is a great place to visit but now i have one more good reason !

Bon voyage !