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The Angel of Independence, Mexico City

The Angel of Independence

Mexico City's most iconic vista


Roma, Condesa & Polanco
Mexico City


An Iconic Vista

This imposing, 45-meter high column topped by the gold-plated bronze statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, is known as the Angel of Independence.

Built in 1910 to commemorate the centenary of Mexico’s independence from Spain, it is today surrounded by the modern skyscrapers of Avenida Paseo de la Reforma which forms one of the most striking vistas in Mexico City.


Avenida Paseo de la Reforma

The Angel of Independence sits in the centre of Mexico City’s most famous boulevard, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, the grand imperial vision of Emperor Maximilian.

Maximilian ruled Mexico during France’s brief intervention in the 1860s when Napoleon III invaded ostensibly in a dispute over unpaid debts, but more likely motivated by a desire to match Britain as an imperial power and limit the expansion of the Protestant United States.

From his home in Chapultepec Castle, Maximilian envisioned a grand avenue similar the Champs-Elysee in Paris. The avenue would run from the entrance of Chapultepec Castle, through what was at the time undeveloped ranches and forest, into the heart of the Centro Historico to reach the National Palace in the Zocalo.

Over the 19th and 20th centuries, as the city grew westwards, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma would become the bustling heart of the city’s business and financial district.

The Angel of Independence, Mexico City
Avenida Paseo de la Reforma is today one of the city's major business and financial centers

Commemorating Mexican Independence

The Angel of Independence was inaugurated on September 16, 1910, the 100th anniversary of the Grito de Dolores, when Miguel Hidalgo rang the bells of his church in Dolores, Hidalgo, and summoned the people of his parish to arms, a moment widely considered to be the start of Mexico’s War of Independence and the date now commemorated as Independence Day in Mexico.

Hidalgo’s remains are now laid to rest in a mausoleum inside the Angel of Independence, alongside thirteen other prominent insurgents in the War of Independence, including rebel leaders José María Morelos and Ignacio Allende, having been transported from their original burial place in the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1925.

The Porfiriato Era

Commissioned by President Porfirio Diaz, construction began on the Angel of Independence in 1902, with the monument set to be the centrepiece of a series of events to mark the centenary of Mexican Independence in 1910.

Porfirio Diaz had been a president-dictator ruling Mexico since 1876, with only a brief gap when a trusted political ally held the office from 1880-84. Although Diaz opened Mexico to foreign investment unleashing an economic boom, this failed to raise living standards for much of the country and by the turn of the 20th century his authoritarian rule had become increasingly unpopular.

By the time the Angel of Independence was inaugurated in 1910, Diaz was in the final months of his presidency. The Mexican Revolution would begin later that year, removing Diaz from power and kicking off a decade-long series of conflicts that would unleash chaos, suffering and political turmoil but would ultimately bring Mexico into the modern era with a transformed government, society and constitution.

Focal point for celebration and protest

To this day, the Angel of Independence remains a focal point for large gatherings: a place where the city’s residents take to the streets to celebrate Mexico’s victories at football, as well as a gathering point for political protests that frequently march along Reforma Avenue.


Walking tour of Reforma Avenue

The Angel of Independence makes a great starting point for a walk along Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, heading west towards Chapultepec Park.

Built in the 19th century in the style of the central avenues of many European capitals, the avenue showcases the architecture of two of Mexico’s major economic booms: monuments and statues from the Porfiriato era of the late 19th and early 20th century, sitting alongside the more recent 21st century construction of some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America.

First Published: November 1, 2023