Some places often become associated with iconic buildings, wondrous monuments or even patriotic memorials erected as remembrances. The images of these icons become so ingrained in the mind that, as we do a visual check-in, they quickly register as not only belonging to a place, but are inextricably tied to it as well and become part of its architectural “DNA”.
In the city of Pachuca, the centerpiece that’s anchored in the heart of it and has become a symbol of pride and reflection is the elegant clock tower known as “El Reloj Monumental”. The monument was inaugurated on the centennial anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spain on September 15, 1910. It was the brainchild of then governor, Pedro L. Rodríguez. At the urging of several residents, the initial plan was to erect a kiosk to showcase local bands, but the governor decided instead to commemorate the milestone in Mexico’s history.
Located in Pachuca’s main square, formerly known as “Plaza de Las Diligencias”, the structure stands 40 meters high and is fashioned in Neoclassical architecture with four levels in all. The entire structure, excluding the top copper cupola, is constructed of cantera blanca stones which were quarried locally in the area of Tezoantla. The stones were assembled using the “machi-hembrada” technique which features a Lego-like design incorporating “male/female” pieces, obviating the need for any mortar and instead relying on the natural weight of the structure for reinforcement.
For the top portion, the cupola is framed in steel which was fabricated in Monterrey and brought by rail to the location. It’s covered in copper and is identical on all four sides, except for the statues found on the exterior. Here, each side displays a 3-meter tall female statue made of Carrara marble and an accompanying date representing unique points in Mexico’s history. Over each statue there is also an eagle with a spread wingspan that achieves the continuity in placement of the Mexican national symbol.
On one side is the date of 1810 marking Mexico’s year of independence. Another façade shows the figure with broken chains in her left hand symbolizing 1821 as the year of liberty and victory. To the north end, Mexico’s tribute to its constitutional year, 1857, is clearly visible. Completing the fourth and final façade is the push for reform and the year of 1859 as seen in the statue’s embrace of a book signifying the constitution while a scroll speaks to reform.
Aside from the beauty of the top portion, and probably of most significance, is the fact that the actual machinery for the clock was produced by the Edward John Dent Company, the same fabricators of London’s Big Ben. Only few places around the world can boast of having the inner workings from such a prestigious and renowned watchmaker.
Though there is disagreement whether this monument was a gift or was purchased outright, the fact remains that the total cost for labor, materials and incidentals surpassed the mark of 300,000 gold pesos. Quite a sum for those days, but worth every single centavo for the lasting impression and timeless reflection it’s made on Pachuqueños, Mexicans and visitors alike.
Thanks to the entire staff of the Pachuca Board of Tourism for their assistance and enthusiasm for sharing about their lovely city. Also, special thanks go to Miguel Angel Jorge Cruz for his expert knowledge and passion for the local history and details about the monument.
I am a contributing writer for the Mexico Today project, which, along with Marca País – Imagen de México “ is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.”
Disclaimer: **Please note that I am being compensated for participation in this project and for attending its launch in Oaxaca. Also note that all posts and written contributions by me will be expressed in an unbiased form with all opinions reflecting my own.