Opened in 1910, the Independence Column is one of the most emblematic monuments not only of the Mexican capital, but of the entire country. With more than 100 years of history, “the angel” – as it is known colloquially – has witnessed the gradual modernization of Mexico City, home of cultural celebrations, social manifestations and even a victim of the inclemencies of Mother Nature.
We go back in time to reveal some of the secrets of the Angel of Independence and review its history.
During the government of Porfirio Díaz, construction work on what would be the Independence Monument began and on January 2, 1902 the first stone was laid. On that occasion, a chest with the Mexican independence act as well as a series of coins of the time was also placed within it.
The work was in charge of the famous Mexican architect Antonio Rivas Mercado, while the sculptures and low reliefs were designed by the Italian Enrique Alciati. It had a cost of 2 million 150 thousand pesos of the time.
On September 16, 1910, it would finally be inaugurated by Díaz to commemorate the centenary of the Independence of Mexico.
The design of the Column of Independence was inspired by the Trajan Column in Rome and the Victory Column in Berlin. Including the angel, measures 45 meters.
The “Angel of Independence” is also known as the winged victory, it is a bronze sculpture with a gold coating that measures 6.7 meters and weighs 7 tons. In his right hand he holds a laurel wreath in an attitude of placing it on the head of the heroes and in his left hand he holds a broken chain of three links that symbolize the end of the three centuries of Spanish rule.
In the column and just below the winged victory is a booth that gives access to a small terrace. Tritarylate type this column is structured in steel and covered with carved pieces of Chiluca, it was decorated with figures of palms, garlands and two rings that bear the names of Agustín de Iturbide, Juan Aldama, Ignacio Allende, López Rayón, Hermenegildo Galeana, Mariano Matamoros, Guadalupe Victoria and Manuel Mier y Terán.
Finally, on the pedestal, specifically on the east side is a sculptural group known as “Apotheosis of the Father of the Fatherland” which is composed of three figures; the priest Miguel Hidalgo holding the Mexican flag, the muse of History sitting with a book and a pen and the Fatherland figure that offers Hidalgo a laurel wreath. In each of the corners of the pedestal are the figures of José María Morelos and Pavón, Francisco Xavier Mina, Nicolás Bravo and Vicente Guerrero.
On the facade of the east side is an ornamental shield with the dates of proclamation and consummation of independence (1810–1821), and under it on a marble plaque that reads “The nation to the heroes of Independence” and in front From this inscription is a giant lion in bronze (symbolizing strength in war) led by a child (symbolizing intelligence).
The ends of the pedestal were adorned with the figures that correspond to Peace, War, Justice and Law. Under these four statues on the front of their bases are their names and on the sides the names of twenty-four characters of independence, divided into eight categories; the precursors, the consummators, the caudillos, the guerrillas, the writers, the congressmen, the heroines and the conspirators.
Inside the Independence Monument, better known as The Angel of Independence, is the ballot box. In 1925, the remains of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, José Mariano Jiménez, José María Morelos y Pavón, Pedro Moreno, Víctor Rosales, Francisco Xavier Mina, Guadalupe Victoria, Vicente Guerrero, Andrés Quintana Roo, Leona Vicario, Nicolás Bravo and Mariano Matamoros were transferred from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City and other remains were brought from their burial places to be deposited at the polls inside the monument.
The only woman buried in the Column is Leona Vicario, because the other great heroine of independence, Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez “La Corregidora de Querétaro” is still buried in this last city.
– During the earthquake of 1957 that affected the Mexican capital, the winged victory sculpture fell from the pedestal and was destroyed by what had to be replaced by a new sculpture. Currently, you can see the face of the original sculpture at the entrance of the Historical Archive of Mexico City.
– In addition to the earthquake of 57, it has also survived the earthquakes of 1985 and 2017.
– On May 30, 2010, on the occasion of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence, the ballot boxes were removed with the remains of the heroes to restore them, put them on display and honor them during 2010 and 2011.