Mérida, Yucatán — The finishing touches to a months-long renovation project are being applied this week to the Monumento a la Patria.
An “espejo de agua” — a reflecting pool — is being tested, a major job for restorers.
The monument sits between the Paseo de Montejo and the Prolongación Paseo de Montejo, bridging old and new Mérida.
Designed by Colombian artist Rómulo Rozo, the monument was inaugurated in 1956 after 12 years of work. It is dominated by the 14-meter high stone figure of an indigenous man holding a flame. The structure has 31 columns, representing the 28 states of the Republic of Mexico, two territories and the Federal District.
The mirror of water is enveloped in iconic symbolism, most prominently a sculpture taken from the Mexican coat of arms: the figure of an eagle fighting with a snake on a cactus.
According to an Aztec legend, the leader of a nomadic tribe was visited in a dream by a god named Huitzilopochtli. The leader was told by the god that the tribe would come across an eagle, perched on a cactus, devouring a snake.
They were ordered to settle wherever they found this eagle. The tribe did so in 1325, despite the swampy conditions of the area. This land would become Tenochtitlan — which today is Mexico City.
Parks and Gardens staff have poured 110,000 liters of water into the pool to see how it circulates and absorbs into the stone.
The director of Municipal Urban Development emphasized that specialists are authorized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, under the direction of Mauricio Jiménez Ramírez.
The Monumento a la Patria was voted one of Mérida’s seven Treasures of the Cultural Heritage, together with the Cathedral, Casa de Montejo, the Paseo de Montejo, the archaeological site of Dzibichaltún, the José Peón Contreras theater and, collectively, the haciendas of Mérida.
Years of sitting stoically on a busy traffic roundabout have taken their toll. Detailed restoration work began last November with an investment of almost 2 million pesos.