Live in a 18th Century Mexican Mansion Hidden Behind Plain Walls
The transition is jarring: One moment you're on cobblestones and the next, you've opened the house's beat-up green door and entered a leafy oasis of manicured gardens, internal courtyards, and reflecting pools. See for yourself:
Known as the Casa San Jose, the house is set in the heart of San Miguel De Allende's UNESCO-protected historic city streets. The city, whose colonial past can be traced to the mid-16th century, when Spanish missionaries set up shop with the old one-two of a chapel and a military outpost, has since become a sprawling, cosmopolitan city that attracts a vast number of expatriates from Europe and the U.S. The closest airport, Guanajuato International, is a solid hour-and-a-half drive from the city; a smaller, regional airport, Queretaro, is closer, though most travelers connect through Mexico City. (Christie's International Real Estate, which listed the property, says that it could appeal to Americans looking to relocate.)
The house itself was built in the 18th century and restored in 2007. It features Spanish Colonial architectural flourishes that include stone archways, carved doors, and wood-beamed ceilings. There's a lovely, open-air interior courtyard, replete with palms and a fountain.
The house seems to have been built for entertaining—or at the very least, for a very large, fun-loving family. There are six bedrooms, seven full baths, and two partial baths, an eat-in chef's kitchen, a dining rom that seats 12, and several outdoor, second-floor terraces with views of the city. The Jardin, the historic town's central courtyard, is just a few blocks away.
Despite the house's location in the heart of a bustling metropolis, there's a capacious rear lawn with a full swimming pool, a garage, full gym, and a variety of additional indoor/outdoor terraces. (Plenty of outdoor space, in other words, should that entertaining/large family situation leave you seeking some peace.) In total, the property is a little more than a third of an acre.
Christie's International Real Estate says real estate prices are still down 10 percent from 2007 highs, and it notes that the building's carrying costs are absurdly low: Taxes on a $4 million home would be roughly $3,000 a year.
Still, the house is on the high end for real estate in the region, even among similarly tony renovated houses in the historic district. Christie's website lists 10 other properties in the area; aside from an undeveloped ranch, only one, a 20,000-square-foot house on 230 acres outside the city limits, tops the price.