On 15 September 1895, National Monument was unveiled for the first time before the astonished gaze of hundreds of Costa Rican. The ceremony was led by President Rafael Yglesias and served to show the Costa Rican and Central American delegates the military power of the government and the wealth of the -then- liberal country.
The National Monument was completed in Paris in 1891 bearing the inscription: “Louis Carrier Belleuse, 1891” however it got to Costa Rica on 1892.
Two problems then arose: find a convenient location and, of course, to install it. The resolution was not to place it on the Plaza Mayor, as decided in 1857, but in a broader space called “Station Square” near the Atlantic Railroad, the park changed its name to National Park after the monument.
The trees surrounding the National Monument don’t allow many Costa Ricans appreciate its plastic and civic value. Among the functions to the collective imagination this sculptural complex has, is to reaffirm the unity and identity of Costa Ricans and Central American nations represented in it.
Meaning of its sculptures
The work was executed in bronze, on a pedestal, with seven figures in representations of the five republics of Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) coming together to defend their territory and repel the invasion personified by William Walker, the seventh figure is a dead soldier.
In the center of the group, Costa Rica stands raising the national flag. This sculpture is wearing a Phrygian cap, a symbol of freedom. Nicaragua holds the broken sword and the veiled face symbolizing mourning and shame for the occupation. And with the other hand on the flag, Costa Rica shows the way to the other sister republics. This is the main figure of the Monument, reminiscent of the Costa Rican leadership during the National Campaign.
As for the weapons, Guatemala wielding the ax, El Salvador a sword, and Honduras arrows with a shield, meaning resistance. All these indigenous and colonial weapons, symbolize the history and unity of Central America, and encourage the union of the “Patria Grande” against the invader, Walker, who, bent by the onslaught, fled with the gun in hand.
The four reliefs of the pedestal represent:
- The Battle of Santa Rosa (20 March 1856).
- The Battle of Rivas (April 11, 1856, episode of Juan Santamaria).
- Taking of San Juan River.
- The heads of the Central American national campaign around the president Juan Rafael Mora Porras.
In addition, shields and fasces adorn the pedestal symbolizing justice.
The National Monument stands and discusses topics linked to Costa Rican societysuch as nationalism, national identity and citizenship. In addition to the struggle for national sovereignty and defense of the independence, both political and economic.