Every capital city should have some kind of symbol, an icon that represents it and is recognizable around the world. This would certainly seem to be the motivation behind the Spire of Dublin, also known as the Monument of Light.
It is the kind of architectural-scale art installation that almost seems to have been designed with how it will look on a postcard in mind.
The Spire stands at around 120 meters (400 feet) high making it Dublin's tallest structure by far, so you are unlikely to spend very long in Dublin city centre without noticing it. Known colloquially as the Millennium Spire, as it was initially intended for completion to coincide with the end-of-century celebrations, the monument sits in the center of O'Connell Street.
It basically resembles a giant needle, 3 meters in diameter at the base it narrows to a point at the top. Constructed out shot-peened stainless steel, the Spire reflects and scatters the Dublin light by day, whilst a subtle lighting scheme and perforations in the steel near its tip creates an elegant glowing effect at night. At ground-level the spiral bronze base is intended by the Architect's to 'symbolize Ireland's past'.
The Spire has been standing over Dublin since 2000, it was conceived by Ian Ritchie Architects after an international competition to design a replacement for a previous monument to the British Admiral Lord Nelson that the IRA blew apart in 1966 in the name of Irish freedom.
So in a sense the Spire has become a physical symbol of the new modern, prosperous, trouble-free 21st century Ireland. That said, as with any new addition to a basically historic city centre on such a domineering scale, the Spire has not been completely without controversy. Many question the use of so much public money, some find it overbearing, to others it has no meaning. But Gustave Eiffel probably got told the same kind of thing.
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