United Nations

United Nations (79)

Here, next to the East River, is the headquarters of the United Nations. The UN was founded by 51 countries after the end of World War II, in 1945, and defines itself as a global partnership of governments coming together with the clear purpose of cooperation in matters of law, peace and international security, as well as economic and social development, humanitarian affairs and human rights. Today, it is comprised of nearly 200 countries. For all these reasons and more, we can assure you that your visit to our headquarters will be an experience.

Although the headquarters of the UN are here in New York, you should know that the territory occupied by these buildings is considered international territory. From the East River to First Avenue and from 42nd Street to 48th Street. Still, though UN members enjoy diplomatic immunity, while in the building you are still under the jurisdiction and governed by the laws of the United States.

This colossal complex was built on a plot of land acquired by Rockefeller and donated to the city. The project was carried out by a group of 11 architects from different countries, led by the firm Wallace Harrison. Among them was the fabled Le Corbusier, as well as master architects from other countries such as Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, China or Australia.

The tallest building in the complex houses the UN Secretariat, while the others are the General Assembly, the Conference Area and the Dag Hammarskjold Library. The latter was built in 1961 in memory of the second UN Secretary General.

In the complex you will also find a garden area with several notable sculptures. These include, among others, the famous "Knotted Gun", a gift from the government of Luxembourg (also known as the "Non-Violence" sculpture), as well as the renowned "Let us beat swords into ploughshares", a gift from the Soviet Union, symbolizing the hope to end all wars and convert destructive elements into building tools for a better world.

In addition to these garden sculptures, and a piece of the fallen Berlin Wall, we recommend that you also pay attention to the rest of the fascinating works. On the one hand, on the eastern side of the public lobby, you will be able to admire Marc Chagall’s "Peace Window", commemorating the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 others in a plane crash in 1961. It is a moving piece 4 and a half metres wide by 3 and a half metres tall, with various allegorical representations of peace and love, as a beautiful face emerging from a cloud of flowers to kiss the child in the centre of the stained glass. 

Do not miss the Venetian mosaic depicting Norman Rockwell’s painting "The Golden Rule". This reputed American artist wanted to illustrate that the golden rule was common to all religions in the world.

Another work worthy of note is the Japanese Peace Bell, donated to the UN in 1954 and made from different coins collected by children from 60 countries from a typical Japanese structure. This bell is known because it only sounds 2 times a year: on the first day of spring and on the opening day of the annual session of the UN General Assemble in September.

As you can see, a visit to the UN headquarters is primarily a historical tour of the common efforts of almost every country on earth to create a better world. Before you leave, remember to photograph the famous row of flags of all the countries that are part of the UN today. That is sure to be a great memento.

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