2015 APR – DOWNTOWN MEXICO CITY

The Winged Victory

The Winged Victory / Angel of Independence

 

Downtown Mexico City has some important historic places to visit, namely –

  1. The Angel of Independence which has the same stature and status in Mexico as the Statue of Liberty in New York.
  2. Monument to the Revolution
  3. The city’s Cathedral, opposite Los Pinos
  4. Los Pinos which is the home of the current President, and has the same status as The White House in DC

All of these places/structures are of significant importance to every Mexican, and even if they have never physically laid eyes on these places, they all know they exist and will recognize any pictures.

 

ANGEL OF INDEPENDENCE

118 ft high

118 ft high

The Angel is a victory monument nearly 120 ft high in downtown Mexico City. It is made of steel and covered in stone and inside the monument is a 200-step staircase that allows you access to the top. However, you cannot just walk across to the monument and climb the staircase; you have to first go someplace else and apply for a permit and, if it is granted, then only can you gain access to the inside staircase.

Marble statues at the base

Marble statues at the base

The monument’s foundation was laid in 1902 but shortly after building started the monument collapsed because the foundation was poorly designed and constructed. It was demolished and work restarted shortly thereafter. It was finished in time to mark the centennial (1910) of the start of the War of Independence.

In 1957 the devastating earthquake in the city caused the Angel/Winged Victory to fall off her column and smash to the ground. Restoration took over a year.

The Angel is symbolic of Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain which started in 1810 and thus has marble statues of the heroes of the war decorating its base.

 

MONUMENT TO THE MEXCAN REVOLUTION

This monument commemorates the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917.

Francisco in front of the monument on the hill

Francisco in front of the monument on the hill

Construction began in 1910 and finished in 1938 and it is notable as the tallest triumphal arch in the world with a height of 220 foot (the Angel is just 118 foot high).

I asked Francisco what the difference was between the War of Independence and the Mexican Revolution?  He looked appalled at my ignorance. “100 years difference”, was his snorted reply.

In case you are confused, there is a huge difference between the two. The War of 1810 was to break away from Spain’s rule. The Revolution of 1910 was a civil revolt against the corrupt rulers of Mexico.

Kids playing in the fountain in the square at the base of the monument

Kids playing in the fountain in the square at the base of the monument

The worst was General Porfirio Díaz who came to power as president in 1876 and ruled until May 1911 – mostly by fraudulently rigging elections, jailing opponents before election day, and paying voters to vote for him. His was an utterly corrupt presidency and he refused to stand down. He intened to be president for life.

Leaders such as Francisco Madero, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata arose to take part in the rebellion against Díaz, and separate efforts eventually coalesced into what became known as the Mexican Revolution that started on Nov 10th, 1910.

View of downtown from the top of the monument

View of downtown from the top of the monument

More than 95% of Mexico’s land was owned by less than 5% of the population. This vastly unequal distribution of land—and, therefore, wealth—had plagued Mexico for many years, to the anger and dismay of the working classes.  Workers on the vast “haciendas” were often treated like slaves, being beaten for the slightest infraction—real or imagined—and murders of workers by their “masters” were common. Worker were also often overworked to death.  Another way to ensure that farmers and workers were kept under the thumb of the wealthy classes was to make sure that any debt incurred was passed down from generation to generation, thereby ensuring that it would never be paid off and the farmers would be kept in perpetual debt bondage. (Wikipedia)

After the Revolution, most of the promised reforms never materialized. When the revolution ended, they developed the Mexican Constitution of 1917, however, throughout most of the 1900’s Mexico was ruled by fraudulent and corrupt leaders. At least the Constitution streamlined the federal government and introduced term limits to prevent another dictatorship.

 

LOS PINOS & the CATHEDRAL

This is the official residence of the President of Mexico and is synonymous with the White House in Washington, DC.

Los Pinos - the president's residence

Los Pinos – the president’s residence

 

It became the presidential abode in 1934 when the then president moved out of Chapultepec Castle and into Los Pinos.

The Cathedral stands to one side of the huge plaza - its the biggest city square I have seen so far in Mexico

The Cathedral stands to one side of the huge plaza – its the biggest city square I have seen so far in Mexico

Los Pinos has been home to thirteen presidents and their families. In the year 2000, President Vicente Fox opened the residence to the public and chose one of the nearby “cottages” as his home (Wikipedia).

 

 

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