If you are in Mérida, you can’t miss these historic mansions on Paseo Montejo that have preserved their splendor for over a hundred years.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Yucatán peninsula experienced an economic boom derived from the flourishing henequen industry. The mansions that were built on Paseo Montejo -to this day, the main avenue of the city of Mérida- are a reflection of this bonanza, and although today they are no longer residential buildings, they still retain the majestic and welcoming air that characterized them more than a hundred years ago. If you find yourself in the Yucatecan capital, don’t forget to include these mansions-turned-museums in your itinerary.
Quinta Montes Molina
This mansion of eclectic architecture with European neoclassical tendencies of the early twentieth century was completed in 1902. In 1915 it was acquired by the Montes Molina family, and was originally known as Villa Beatriz, after the wife of the couple. The stained glass door and the original furniture preserve the majestic air of the house, which is open as a museum and is rented for social and cultural events. It also has a high quality regional handicrafts store.
Its name derives from the high Moorish-influenced lookout point from which privileged views of Paseo Montejo can be appreciated. The house was built for Dr. Alvaro Medina and his family in 1908, and despite its imposing size, the living spaces are relatively small, as this was not the family’s usual residence, but the one they used when visiting the city. Although the original furniture of the house is not preserved, it is furnished with armchairs, mirrors, showcases and bedrooms of the time. It is possible to visit the house alone, or rent its different spaces -from terraces and gardens to interior rooms- for events.
As their name suggests, these houses are striking for their (almost) identical facades in the most luxurious French neoclassical style. They are also known as Casas Cámara, since it was the Cámara Zavala brothers who brought the plans from France, after the architect Gustave Umbdenstock won first place in urban architecture at the Paris World’s Fair. They were built between 1906 and 1911, and one of them -the one located at number 495- preserves the original interiors and can be visited as a museum from Thursday to Sunday.
It is currently home to the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History, and although it is not exactly on Paseo Montejo Avenue, it is worth a block detour to admire the splendor of its eclectic construction with baroque and neoclassical elements. In the 20th century, it was the residence of General Francisco Cantón Rosado, an outstanding military officer in the Caste War and later Governor of the state. When he died, his heirs lived there for a couple of years and then put it at the disposal of the State, after which it was the seat of the State School of Fine Arts, and then declared the official residence of the governors of the state. Finally, in 1966 it became a museum.
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