Cerro Lambaré, Asunción’s Monumental Mountain

Cerro Lambare in Asunción

photography by: Omri Westmark

Throughout much of its history, Paraguay has been ruled by a series of autocrats, some of whom waged war on neighboring countries while others sealed the nation from the outside world. Among the lesser-known vestiges of Paraguay’s authoritarian past is Cerro Lambaré, a verdant hill on the outskirts of Asunción, where a brutalist monument pays a tribute to the country’s tumultuous history and famed heroes.

From a total isolation to an all-out war with its neighbors that nearly wiped it off the face of the Earth, Paraguay had a turbulent history, featuring continentwide conflicts and pretentious tyrants. Known as Paraguay’s last dictator, Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda ruled the country with an iron feast for more than 3 decades. The son of a German father and a Paraguayan mother, Stroessner was notorious for his brutal crackdown of dissidents as well as the total elimination of civil liberties.

 

It might come as a surprise for some, yet Stroessner’s presidency wasn’t accompanied only by the ever-growing suppression of human rights as the then president was also known for his fondness for large construction projects. To cement his legacy, quite literally, Stroessner initiated dozens of grand-scale plans that transformed the country, including the construction of highway network, the Itaipu Dam (the world’s largest hydroelectric powerplant upon completion) and the establishment of Ciudad del Este, currently Paraguay’s second largest city.

 

Perching atop a wooded mountain in Asunción’s satellite town of Lambare, Cerro Lambaré might not be Stroessner Era’s best-known relics, yet it is by no means less significant. In 1976, Stroessner commissioned the Spanish renowned architect and sculptor, Juan de Ávalos y Taborda, to design a monument honoring Paraguay’s most important historical figures on the peak of Cerro Lambare. Taborda, who few years earlier was entrusted with designing the Valley of the Fallen, a massive basilica complex near Madrid, used his monumental creation in Spain as a source of inspiration of Cerro Lambare’s hilltop sculpture.

 

Following three years of construction works, the monument, which was built primarily of concrete blocks, was inaugurated in 1982. Its base is comprised of five legs, each of which is embellished with a pair of Greek-style reliefs and crowned by a statue of a Paraguayan national hero, including former presidents and patriarchs. Interestingly, up until 1991, a sculpted figure of Stroessner was also among Cerro Lambare’s multiple statues. However, it was ultimately removed by the mayor of Lambare due to the leader’s controversial reputation among locals.

 

The aforementioned pentagonal pedestal supports a large column, which is in turn topped by a statue of an angel. Situated right in the middle of the plaza beneath is the monument’s centerpiece, a statue of Chief Lambare, the venerated leader of the Guaraní tribe, who heroically fought the Spanish colonizers at this very mountain a few centuries ago.

 

At a height of 139 meters above sea level, the knoll provides visitors with a stunning view of the Paraguay River and its nearby shanty towns, the streets of Lambare and a bit of Asunción’s skyline. A meandering road links the monument with the entrance area through the hill’s forested slopes, making it accessible for cars and pedestrians alike.

The angel-topped monument jutting out of the tree canopies

photography by: Omri Westmark


Cerro Lambare’s parking area

photography by: Omri Westmark


The monument is comprised of a tall column as well as a five-leg pedestal that carries it

photography by: Omri Westmark


The statue of Chief Lambare

photography by: Omri Westmark


The two Greek engravings hanged bellow a statue of a Paraguayan historical key figure

photography by: Omri Westmark


The monument at its fullest glory

photography by: Omri Westmark


A glimpse of the nearby informal settlements

photography by: Omri Westmark


The town of Lambare as viewed from the mountain

photography by: Omri Westmark


The place is popular among locals who come to enjoy its spectacular vistas while sipping Tereré, Paraguay’s most popular drink

photography by: Omri Westmark


A view of Cerro Lambare from afar, next to a group of football-playing kids

photography by: Omri Westmark