Estela de Luz

Lieja 270, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11580 Ciudad de México, CDMX

One of Mexico City’s most controversial landmarks is the Estela de Luz (“Stele of Light”) which at first glance doesn’t seem to offer much explanation as to the controversies that surround it, and there’s no particular aesthetic component that anyone could ever find polemic or even memorable. Yet it wasn’t the actual appearance of the stele that caused the controversy, it was the political and corruption scandals that surrounded every part of its creation process; from design to building, to unveiling, there were political opponents ready to criticize every aspect of this simple-looking monument; so in a way, the Estela de Luz did become a representation of Mexico’s ongoing political and corruption quagmires.

The landmark was originally commissioned as a piece of artwork that would celebrate Mexico’s Independence bicentennial (and a centennial of the Mexican Revolution) and it was announced as an “arch” but then the project became mired in accounting and corruption charges and the budget blew up to three times the original amount, not only that but it wasn’t unveiled on time and was actually done one year later after the bicentennial (and centennial) celebrations had passed. Certainly, the mood of the public had soured by then, and the stele became a lightning rod for all of the criticism and spite directed at then-President Felipe Calderon. A few years after the entire controversy, the Estela de Luz is unceremoniously just called the “Wafer” (“Suavicrema” in Spanish) because people claim that’s just what it looks like, a type of vanilla-flavored cookie.

Yet the monument isn’t that bad, if you get close to it you can actually touch at the bottom one of its 1,704 Brazilian quartz panels that were cut in Italy, and maybe the first impression you’ll get is how heavy each panel is and be somewhat amazed at how this relatively thin structure can accommodate all of that weight at a height of 104 meters. And one can’t deny the stele looks beautiful when it’s brightly illuminated at night. The design was made by architect César Pérez Becerril. The Estela de Luz is located a few steps away from the entrance to the Chapultepec park and the Metro station “Chapultepec”.

But one thing that lacks controversy is the Centro Cultural Digital, located underneath the Estela de Luz, this “Cultural Digital Center” has become Mexico City’s prime location to exhibit art and culture created through digital media. The Centro Cultural Digital has been exhibiting to the public Mexico’s new era of digital creation, ironically underneath the weight and controversy of the much more recognizable Estela de Luz.


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