Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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El Monumento a la Patria is without a doubt one of Mérida’s most recognizable landmarks. Even visitors passing through the city for only a day, or even a few hours, likely stop by and visit this iconic monument.
The Monumento a la Patria, or Monument to the Homeland, was crafted by the Mexican/Colombian sculptor Rómulo Rozo at the northmost point of Mérida’s iconic Paseo de Montejo.
Construction of the monument began on March 7, 1945 and took more than 11 years to complete with the collaboration of architect Manuel Amábilis Domínguez and his son Max Amábilis.
Carved out of stone by Rozo himself, the Monumento a la Patria depicts scenes from Mexican history including the declaration of independence, the revolution, and the battle for Puebla.
The monument also depicts Mexico’s active role in international affairs by recalling the country’s role in World War II.
But as much as the Monumento a la Patria was designed to commemorate history, it was also crafted with the intention of making people in Yucatán feel more part of the republic, that is to say, more Mexican.
Though by 1945 nearly a century had passed since Yucatán had been reincorporated into the Mexican republic, the reality was that its great geographic isolation from the rest of the country meant that many Yucatecos felt more Yucatecan than they did Mexican.
“I have erected in Mérida this great altar to embolden our nation’s spirit and to erase all notions of Yucatecan succession. This homeland is for us all,” said Rozo of El Monumento a la Patria.
The theme of national unity is reinforced by placing the emblems of each state and territory of the country around a fountain meant to represent the lake of Texcoco, the legendary birthplace of Mexico.
Acting as a backdrop to the lake of Texcoco is a rendering of the sacred Mayan tree of life, the mighty Ceiba.
The Monumento a la Patria also features images featuring illustrious Mexicans who made great contributions to the arts.
Also making an appearance on the great monument are several images of animals including a variety of birds and animals associated with Maya mythology such as the jaguar.
It would perhaps not be unfair to characterize el Monumento a la Patria as propaganda, though the same could be said of just about every other piece of publicly commissioned art.
Nowadays El Monumento a la Patria also serves many civic functions, being a popular location for everything from celebrating victories in sport to holding protests or vigils.