MEXICO CITY -- It might surprise you to find an ornate mansion in
the heart of a working-class neighborhood in the capital, but
during Mexico's colonial era, the Tacubaya area of Mexico City was
a weekend getaway for wealthy families who lived downtown.
One example is Casa de la Bola, a mansion-turned-museum that
gives visitors a taste of how the Mexican aristocracy used to
The structure, which dates from the 1600s, has been inhabited by
some of Mexico's most prominent families over the centuries,
including an archbishop and one of Empress Carlotta's maids in
Its most recent occupant was an aristocrat named Antonio
Haghenbeck y de la Lama, who in 1942 planted a garden with banana
and fig trees.
He covered the mansion's rooms, including his "summer" and
"winter" bedrooms, in silks, inlaid furniture, Japanese urns,
canopy beds, crystal chandeliers and ivory crucifixes.
Throughout the house are the aristocrat's personal effects as he
might have left them upon his death, including reading glasses,
watches and other personal items resting on coffee tables, end
tables and wardrobes.
A few blocks from Casa de la Bola Museum is another museum that
served as the home of an aristocrat named Luis Barragan, who, like
Haghenbeck, moved into his home in the 1940s. But that's where the
The exterior of Barragan's home is austere, blending in with the
gray surroundings of the neighborhood. But inside, the home is
painted in intense shades of pink, yellow and terra-cotta. Each
room is decorated in a particular style and demonstrates Barragan's
interest in popular art, including clay pitchers, blown glass and
Barragan, considered one of Mexico's most important architects,
received the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1980.
Casa de la Bola Museum is on Parque Lira 136 (corner
Observatorio). Open Monday to Friday by appointment, admission is
$5 and includes a guided tour in English. On Sunday, the museum is
open to the public. Admission is $2. For more information, call
(011) 525 515-5582.
Casa Luis Barragan is on General Francisco Ramirez 14 (between
General Jose Ceballos and Constituyentes). It is open by
appointment Monday to Saturday. Entrance fee is $4 and includes a
tour in English. For details, call (011) 525 272-4945.