Jardín Borda

sights / Parks & gardens

Lonely Planet review

Beside the 1784 Parroquia de Guadalupe , this extravagant property, inspired by Versailles, was designed in 1783 for Manuel de la Borda as an addition to the stately residence built by his father José de la Borda. From 1866 Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota entertained their courtiers here and used the house as a summer residence.

The gardens are formally laid out on a series of terraces with paths, steps and fountains, and they originally featured a botanical collection with hundreds of varieties of ornamental plants and fruit trees. Because of a water shortage, the baroque-style fountains operate only on weekends.

Duck into the house to get an idea of how Mexico’s 19th-century aristocracy lived. In typical colonial style, the buildings are arranged around courtyards. In one wing, the Museo de Sitio has exhibits on daily life during the empire period and original documents with the signatures of Morelos, Juárez and Maximilian.

Several romantic paintings in the Sala Manuel M Ponce , a recital hall near the entrance of the house, show scenes of the garden in Maximilian’s time. One of the most famous paintings depicts Maximilian in the garden with La India Bonita, the ‘pretty Indian’ who later became his lover.