The Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl, founded in 1999, welcomes writers who face violence or threat in their countries of origin. Today a project of the Mexico City Secretary of Culture, the space offers a cultural center and venue. The main focus remains in aiding and assisting cultural producers from around the world.
The space began with the hope of honoring the Mexican capital’s history of remaining open to refugees as it did during the Spanish Civil War, and later the Second World War. The center provides accommodation and accompaniment to foreign writers in danger and fulfills a cultural function with conferences, book presentations, poetry readings, and literary workshops.
The original 1938 building was a single family home designed by architect Enrique Aragón Echegaray. (He’s probably best known for having designed the Altar a la Patria, better known as the Niños Heroes monunment in Chapultepec Park.) In 1999, architect Felipe Leal directed the remodeling and conversion to the Casa Refugio. Today it has three apartments for resident writers. The renovations included a conference room with a capacity of 30 people, plus a small bookstore, garden and administrative offices.
After the 2017 earthquakes, the Casa took in 40 people. It worked as a collection center and even as a medical center. The La Condesa neighborhood was particularly hard hit. A year later, the casa worked with neighbors to form the Biblioteca Memorial 19. Today it houses some 3,000 books rescued from nearby collapsed buildings.
Events focus on literary and cultural themes and are announced on the Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl Facebook page.