Considered as an iconic landmark of Mexico City, the Arch of the Revolution, also known as the Revolution Monument (Monumento a la Revolución), is located on Plaza de la Republica between downtown Reforma and Insurgentes.
Initially, the imposing building was planned as the Federal Legislative Palace, during the regime of José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori. The project was planned in 1897 and the government allocated 5 million pesos for its construction. Accordingly, a competition was arranged to select the design of structure, which was won by a Frenchman, Emile Benard. The foundation stone was laid by President Diaz in 1910, during the centennial celebrations of Independence of the country and a steel internal structure including a distinctive cupola was erected.
After Díaz was ousted from the political scene in May 1911, President Francisco I. Madero, known as the Apostle of Democracy, continued the construction of the building till 1912, when the work stalled, since revolutionary conflicts created shortage of resources.
After the revolution, there was talk of demolishing the incomplete building. Finally, it was decided that, instead of demolishing the abandoned structure, it should be modified and used for some other purpose. Carlos Obregón Santacilia, a Mexican architect, proposed to convert it to a monument commemorating the revolution, incorporating the cupola already installed in the structure. After receiving the green signal, he started the project in 1933 and completed it in 1938, during the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas. In place of a sumptuous palace, the effort yielded the Revolution Monument that stands alone in the historical centre of Mexico City. The monument, unveiled in 1938, contains the tombs of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary heroes Pancho Villa, Francisco Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Plutarco Elías Calles and Lázaro Cárdenas. The 220 feet (67 m) tall monument is considered the tallest triumphal arch in the world.
The Revolution Monument and the Plaza de la República on which it stands got a major makeover in 2010 to commemorate Mexico’s centennial anniversary of the Revolution. The Plaza is decorated with geyser-like fountains, while after the sun set the architectural features of the monument are highlighted by colourful lights. The fantastic stone sculpture of the monument, designed by Oliverio Martínez, features awesome male and female figures with their sickles and swords of justice representing Independence, the Reform Laws, Agrarian Laws, and Labor Laws.
The monumental arch is equipped with a sleek glass panoramic elevator that shoots up 57 m in a matter of seconds to carry the visitors to an access deck inside the Monument's stone and copper dome. From the access deck, a spiral staircase within the dome leads to the observation deck and the deck offers a mesmerizing 360 degree view of the surrounding skyline, which is simply breathtaking.
There is also an interesting basement art gallery, known as the Paseo Cimentacion, housing temporary art exhibitions amid a labyrinth of gigantic steel beams that serve as the foundation of the huge structure of the colossal monument.