Av. Paseo de la Reforma, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06500 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Probably THE most iconic monument in all of Mexico, The Angel of Independence was commissioned in 1902 by then-president Porfirio Diaz to commemorate the 100 years of Mexican Independence. Celebrated Mexican architect, Antonio Rivas Mercado was in charge of the project, while decorative sculptures and other designs were handled by Italian Enrique Alciati. The cost of the monument was $2,150,000 pesos in 1902 currency. Since then, the monument, known colloquially as “El Ángel” has been a center for the congregation of Mexicans in times of celebration and protest.
This magnificent column is located in one of the roundabouts of the iconic Paseo de la Reforma, it stands close to 100 feet tall and boasts at the top the “Victoria Alada”, or “Winged Victory”, a gargantuan bronze angel coated in gold that weighs 7 tonnes. It represents the victory of independence and overlooks the busy avenue and the Castle of Chapultepec, which can be viewed at a remote distance. The grand column was inspired the Trajan’s Column in Rome and the Berlin Victory Column. The names of some of the heroes of the Independence are inscribed in parts of the column, and some sculptures depict the most prominent figures of the movement, such as the “Father of the Nation” Miguel Hidalgo.
Nowadays the monument is like a lightning rod of national emotions as it is the gathering place for the masses in a celebratory mood, as when Mexico wins a game in the World Cup; or for social restlessness, as in the protests against gender violence that targets women in Mexico, where the column has been defaced and vandalized (but quickly repaired soon after). Yet it’s more typical, on any given Sunday afternoon, to witness quinceañeras and their entourage of chambelanes (dance partners) having their pictures taken in full quinceañera regalia by professional photographers at the steps of the monument.
Access to the incredible view provided by the small overlook, or terrace, at the top of the Ángel de la Independencia has been recently re-established and is free for anyone who wishes to climb the 200 step ladder inside the column. Along the way, visitors can discover that the remains of the heroes of the Independence rest inside the monument, making it a mausoleum for the people who had a vision for a new country, independent from European rule. Anybody visiting the city can find a ride to the Ángel by way of the Turibús, a double-decker sight-seeing bus that has more than a dozen different circuits around the city, and provides the opportunity to purchase a ticket at any stop along the way. Prices range from $175 pesos during the week, to $195 pesos on weekends.
The hop-on, hop-off convenience provided by the Turibús is a good way to enjoy a visit to the Angel de la Independencia and the surrounding area along Paseo de la Reforma, which is lined with quality restaurants, shops, and cafés. But the main attraction will remain a view of the country’s main monument, which is an icon around the world symbolizing Mexican pride.