The Palace of Iturbide is a large palatial home located in the historic centre of Mexico City. It was built by the Count of San Mateo Valparaíso as a wedding gift for his daughter. It gained the name “Palace of Iturbide” because Agustín de Iturbide lived and accepted the crown of the First Mexican Empire there after Mexico gained independence from Spain.
This residence was never owned by Agustín de Iturbide. It was built as a replica of the royal palace of Palermo by Miguel de Berrio y Saldívar, Count of San Mateo Valparaíso and Marquis of Jaral de Berrio. Until the 17th century, the site was a convent for the Sisters of Saint Brigit, until they sold the land to Berrio y Saldívar.
Berrio y Saldívar’s fortune was based in mining and livestock and he was also the mayor of Mexico City. Supposedly he had this palace built to equal the sum of his daughter’s dowry, approximately 100,000 pesos, with the hopes of keeping his son-in-law, the Marquis of Moncada of Sicily from squandering the daughter’s wealth.
This couple’s son, the grandson of the home’s builder, preferred not to live in the palace but rather offered it to visiting dignitaries such as viceroy Félix Calleja and later Iturbide. Iturbide accepted the offer to be Mexico’s first emperor after independence from Spain on the palace balcony. During his reign (1821–1823) this house served as the royal palace.
Early in the 19th century, the building housed the College of Mining, then remodelled in 1855 for use as a hotel. In 1965, it was purchased and restored by the National Bank of Mexico. In 1972, it became the home of the Banamex Cultural Foundation (Fomento Cultural Banamex). The foundation spent two years from 2002 to 2004 doing significant restoration work on the building and then reopened it as the “Palacio de Cultura Banamex.” It hosts a large number of temporary art exhibitions and art workshops for adults and children.
This Mexican Baroque building was designed and begun by Francisco Antonio Guerrero y Torres and finished by his brother-in-law Agustín Duran between 1779 and 1785.The building has three floors and a mezzanine and shows Italian influence in its Baroque design.
Its façade of tezontle and cantera stone is flanked by two fortified towers at the ends. The palace has a central gallery, or loggia, which is now closed to the public. The façade is decorated with carved stone that features organic and geometric motifs such as flowers, small double-tailed mermaids and graceful male figures. Inside, the porch has a vaulted roof and there is a large archway leading to the courtyard decorated with geometric figures. The courtyard is surrounded by eighteen arches supported by Tuscan columns.