More than 200 of these triumphal towers venerating the first chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, were erected all over the newly unified country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The example in Concepción is one of only a handful of such beacons of Bismarck reverence built outside Europe by the German diaspora.
Known locally as El Mirador Alemán (the German Viewpoint), the 30-foot-tall Bismarck Tower in Chile’s second city is the world’s most southerly example of this type of monument. Crowning the 850-foot-high Cerro Caracol (Snail Hill), and offering panoramic views, this patriotic podium was erected in 1921.
The small but influential German-speaking community of Concepción intended to light a flaming beacon atop the tower on significant dates to commemorate the Prussian-born statesman. Bismarck’s crumbling likeness is carved onto a stone plaque halfway up the semi-ruinous structure.
The stone tower was originally twice as high as it is today, but lost its upper tier during the devastating Chillán earthquake of 1949. It was damaged twice more in seismic calamities, in 1960 and 2010, which has led a German website dedicated to all things Bismarck Tower-related to nickname it the “Earthquake-proof Tower.”