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Palace of the Marques de Selva Nevada



Today the Palace of the Marques de Selva Nevada is most famous for two bars on the street-level: La Faena with its bullfighting paraphernalia, and the lavish Bar Mancera. On calle Venustiano Carranza, both places are worth a visit simply to say you’ve been in a palace as illustrious as this.

The land is said to have belonged to Antonio de la Cadena, the Marquis de la Selva Nevada, as early as 1535. His descendents, and those who inherited the title, occupied the property through 1753 when the structure we see today was completed.

Most histories of the property will dwell on Carlos III’s granting of the title in 1777. It went to both Don Manuel Rodríguez de Pinillos y López Monteros and his wife Antonia Gómez Rodríguez de Pedroso. This is said to have been the only known case of granting a noble title to both husband and wife. One of their descendants later commissioned Manuel Tolsá to build the resplendent Palace of Buenavista for her son. (She’d already purchased the title of Count of Buenavista for him.)

Curiously, the same Marquises also maintained a stunning country home in San Ángel. That one is maintained by the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Though little is known of the palace interior, the Marquise is known to have had exceptional Baroque taste. This did not change even despite the relationship with (Neoclassical) Tolsá. Alas, by the late 19th century, the long line of Marquises had fled independent Mexico, or been forgotten. The entire interior was modified and upper floors were added and adapted for use as the Hotel Mancera. This name can still be read at the top of the façade. Named for the politician, Gabriel Mancera (1839-1925), he acquired the property from the third and last Marquesa de Selva Nevada.  

The main patio was filled in, although a drink at La Faena bar may give you an idea of it. Most of the 18th century building was preserved, and the upper two floors were added with some respect for the old palace, using forms and materials similar to the originals.
Nothing was preserved from the magnificent courtyard with its soaring arches, nor a second service courtyard, nor the small orchard at the back of the building. Nevertheless, the Palace of the Marques de Selva Nevada is a dark and enchanting part of history and one that is a pleasure to visit.

Works cited on this page: 

• Mexico Heraldico:  Palacio del Marqués de Selva Nevada
Orizaba Antigua:
el Marquesado de Selva Nevada

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