My time in Mexico City was short and sweet, with the obvious highlight of the wedding for which I came. I was, however, able to get a little bit of sightseeing in the morning following the ceremony.
With only a few hours to spare, a distance restriction due to afternoon plans, and all the museums being closed on Mondays, Paulo (who had, at this point, been designated my tour guide for the day) decided to take me to a important landmark of Mexico City.
The Monumento a la Revolución is located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of the nation’s capital and is a significant icon of Mexico’s cultural and social history. A French architect named Émile Bernard was selected to design the building, which was originally conceived to be a parliament building. Construction was interrupted in 1912 by a lack of funds, due in part to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, and was not resumed until 1936 when Mexican architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia decided to build over the existing frame in a Art Deco and Mexican socialist realism style and re-purposed the structure as a monument to the Mexican Revolution.
Sculptor Oliverio Martínez was selected to create sculptures that would embody and symbolize the work of the Revolution and also what Mexico as a new nation held dear. His four sculptures are found at each corner of the monument, each dedicated to a different set of laws that would make Mexico great: “The Independence,” “Reform Laws,” “Agrarian Laws,” and “Labour Laws.” All the figures were completed in 1938 and fit in perfectly with Santacilia’s style for the monument.
The pillars of the monument also serve as a mausoleum for the heroes of the Mexican Revolution, including Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Lázaro Cárdenas.
As a whole, the monument is striking and impressive, towering over the Plaza de la República – indeed, it is considered the tallest triumphal arch in the world at 67 meters (220 ft). It’s height is one of its main attractions, because visitors can take an elevator to an observation deck that provides a 360 degree view of Mexico City and a close up look at the statues of Martínez. There is the possibility of going higher, up into the dome, and also underneath to a recently added art gallery, but that costs a little more money.
The plaza itself is also beautiful, decorated with colorful trees blooming in spring and a fountain that at night is lit with different colors. Sadly, when I was there the fountain had been turned off due to some event taking place at the base of the monument, but it was still a pleasure to be able to enjoy this slice of history for a few hours.
Soon, Paulo and I were back on the bus for home. It had been a interesting and educational morning and I wish we had had more time to explore other parts of the city but was glad to have been able to do this.
If you are ever in Mexico City and enjoy learning about history and culture – I definitely recommend the MRM, as the locals call it, be on your list. You won’t be disappointed.
Elevator to Panoramic Observation Deck: 50 MEX, 30 MEX with student ID.
REvoluciónArte (art galleries, wax figures, summit, and observation deck access): 110 MEX, 90 MEX with student ID.
Information Brochure: 20 MEX
Gift Shop and Cafe on premises