Casa de la Malinche

C. Republica de Cuba 95, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX

One of Mexico’s most controversial characters of all time surely has to be “La Malinche”, an indigenous woman from Tabasco who aided, interpreted, and advised Hernán Cortés in his conquest of Mexico. She has come to be a symbol of many things in Mexico, from betrayal to an enslaved victim, to ultimately the mother of Mexican culture, as her son with Hernán Cortés, Martín, was one of the first mestizos that blended Spanish blood with indigenous heritage. La Casa de la Malinche is the big red house in Coyoacán where Hernán Cortés and La Malinche lived for approximately one year between 1521 to 1522 and which, surprisingly, has stood the passing of the centuries and still stands today, next to the church and plaza that La Malinche wanted in order to entertain herself.

Cortes was captivated by La Malinche, who was one of several slaves given to him in Tabasco by the Mayan people after they were one of the first societies to engage Cortes’ army in battle and settled for a truce following heavy casualties. La Malinche was first his interpreter and eventually his sentimental partner, with which he fathered his first son in the new continent, Martín Cortes. This “Casa Colorada” (“Red House”) was built for La Malinche with big windows and thick walls and has come to symbolize Mexico’s mestizo heritage, where literally the union between the Spanish and the native indigenous cultures came together. It has also become a veritable landmark in Coyoacán, an area in the city Cortes took to his liking and was one of the first ones to be developed with roads and buildings of a new colonial aesthetic. The churches of Santa Catarina and San Juan Bautista, along with the Palacio de Ayuntamiento (which Cortes also used as his own personal palace) were also built around this time.

The “Red House” was also home to Rina Lazo and Arturo García Bustos, a couple of painters who came to believe the walls were the original ones that were built five centuries ago, even though the house went through some remodeling and an extra floor was added since the times of La Malinche. The great Mexico City earthquake of 2017 damaged the house and almost brought it down yet it underwent restoration which was finished in 2021. The house, with its five centuries of history, also has a dark side and according to legend, it’s the location where Cortes murdered his Spanish wife Catalina Suárez. This historic “Red House” is close to the historic center of Coyoacán, in front of the “Plaza de la Conchita” and is currently inhabited by Rina García Lazo, daughter of the painter couple, who has been fighting ardently for its continuing restoration as part of Mexico’s cultural and historic heritage.


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