Mexico unveils monument to celebrate 200 years of independence
A stunning new monument will greet those on Central American tours who stop off in Mexico City after the unveiling of the Pillar of Light tower, built to mark the country's bicentenary.
The 343-foot tall tower, which looms over Mexico's main boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma, was officially opened on Saturday (January 7th) in a ceremony marked with a firework display and attended by Mexican president Felipe Calderon.
Built to commemorate 200 years since Mexico broke free of Spanish rule, the tower is covered by hundreds of panels of quartz that are backlighted in changing patterns by LED panels.
The monument has been the subject of controversy within Mexico having run over budget and completed a year-and-a-half late - it was supposed to be inaugurated during the country's bicentennial celebrations in 2010.
Nevertheless, President Calderon hailed the tower as a new "icon" for the nation and its capital city.
"The Pillar of Light is a deeply felt tribute from today's Mexicans to the heroes who in the last two centuries have built this nation," he said. "Starting today, we have a monument with which all Mexicans can identify."
The president added that the Pillar of Light symbolised unity and is the emblem of a new era, more prosperous era for Mexico.
And while the $75 million price tag as drawn criticism from some, others feel the cost will be worth it.
Businessman Oscar Anguiano, 42, told the Associated Press: "We need an icon for Mexico City that will identify us the world over."
Mexico was occupied by the Spanish since the arrival of Hernan Cortes in 1519 until declaring independence on September 16th 1810.
The new tower will add to the already lengthy list of things to do and see for those visiting Mexico City, with Aztec ruins, a lively night life and colourful culture just some of the reasons to stop off at the Mexican capital.