Casa del Indio Fernández

Ignacio Zaragoza 51, Santa Catarina, Coyoacán, 04010 Ciudad de México, CDMX

One of Mexico’s most recognized movie stars was Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, a talented actor, screenwriter, and director during Mexico’s golden era of cinema. His majestic house was located in a tree-lined street in Coyoacán and was turned into a museum after his passing. The home is a beautiful big house made from volcanic stone as was popular during his era, and as you walk through the house you get to see his furniture and personal possessions as he had them arranged when he inhabited the house. There are guided tours on hand that can explain to you the work of “El Indio” Fernández within the context of filmmaking during his heyday, which was the 1940s and 1950s, and a full tour of the house doesn’t take more than an hour.

Emilio “El Indio” (“The Indian”) Fernández worked in Mexican cinema during its golden age of the 40s and 50s, and he was hooked on film when he was witness to soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s visit to the United States (Fernández was in that country at the time) and a screening of the soviet director’s films left him very impressed. He sought through cinema to be the revolutionary that he really wanted to be, someone close to him convinced him to use the powerful medium of cinema in order to communicate his ideas to the masses. His film María Candelaria won the 1946 Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which was his greatest achievement. He further worked in Mexican and Hollywood productions.

The house/museum is located on the corner of Zaragoza and Dulce Olivia streets in Coyoacán, a few blocks from the Miguel Ángel de Quevedo avenue and the house itself is hard to miss, its a huge and imposing ashy grey construction made from the stones of the Volcán Xitle (“Xitle Volcano”) and was designed by architect Manuel Parra. The cost of entry is $50 pesos. Inside the residence, there are statues of saints that were taken by Fernández from other locations and churches in México. It wasn’t a federal offense to just take national patrimonies for oneself, so Fernández simply took some relics from the churches and other locations that he filmed in. About 140 films have been filmed here and the house is rented on average some three to five times a year as a film location. Some popular productions have been Frida (2002) starring Salma Hayek and Man On Fire (2004) with Denzel Washington.

The Casa del “Indio” Fernández is an interesting part of a visit to Coyoacán, it’s a window into the life and times of this Mexican classic film star.


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