Av Francisco I. Madero 4, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06500 Ciudad de México, CDMX
The historic center in Mexico City is already packed with a number of interesting locations and buildings filled with culture and history that each deserves their own special visit and some of your dedicated time to fully appreciate their value. This is especially true where the Palacio de Bellas Artes sits and its immediate surroundings, but just across the street, across the whole country’s busiest cross-walk actually, is the Sanborns Casa de los Azulejos (“House of Tiles”), its very hard to miss as its exterior is completely decorated in blue and white Talavera tiles from the state of Puebla. It stands one block east of Bellas Artes, between the streets of Madero and 5 de Mayo. This ornate building was built in the XVI century when two of the most prestigious families of the colonial era were joined by the marriage of Graciana Suárez Peredo and the Count del Valle de Orizaba. Both of their families were very rich and held noble titles. They lived at this house, which acquired its tiled facade sometime later during its first remodeling in 1737, causing a great sensation amongst the residents of the city.
The house has since been known for its extravagant exterior, which also includes carved stone finishes and French porcelain crowns on its windows, balconies, and doors. The interior holds a fountain in what was common for the central courtyards of residences of this caliber, the stained glass roof was added in the XX century. The general architectural style of the house is considered to be baroque or Mudéjar (a style popular between the XIII and XVI centuries in the Christian region of the Iberian Peninsula). There’s a couple of murals inside too, most notably one of José Clemente Orozco’s earliest works, called “Omniscience” and painted in 1925.
The descendants of the Counts of Valle de Orizaba sold the property in 1871 and from there the house’s story was a turbulent one during the next few decades, as it was a residence for several wealthy families, it housed a woman’s boutique in the lower floor and rented its upper floor to the Jockey Club of Mexico, it was also occupied by the Zapatista army, and hosted banquets by the supporters of President Porfirio Díaz. Finally, in the early XX century, it was acquired by the Sanborn brothers, Frank and Walter, who expanded their Sanborns American Pharmacy business which was on neighboring Filomeno Mata street to this opulent old mansion. It took them 2 years to restore it, but it has since then been the flagship store of the Sanborns diners chain in Mexico.
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