To live in the Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende is to live close to the past as well as the very vibrant present. Authentic Spanish-Colonial buildings — brightly painted along picturesque cobblestone streets — and period churches have forged the town’s reputation as a must-see destination for world travelers. The 64-block city center earned a United Nations World Heritage Site designation in 2008 for its “outstanding” buildings.
Casa Palikao is one of them.
The romantic allure of the $6.25-million property at Hidalgo #32, Centro, starts at the arched entry. “You see the grandeur of the property, you see the scale, you feel like you’re going back to a different era,” listing agent Ann Dolan of CDR San Miguel says.
It’s a couple of hundred steps away from El Jardin, the main plaza and heart of San Miguel. The plaza is home to the landmark pinkish neo-Gothic-style church, La Parroquia, easily one of the most photographed churches in Mexico.
Casa Palikao (named by one of the owners for her ancestral home in Algeria) holds two buildings: a period hacienda meticulously updated with Mexican accents and antiques and a smaller house made using 18th-century materials. After renovating the main house, the owners bought an adjacent property and built a cozier home that matches the original design. They lived in the casita and entertained in the hacienda.
At the main house, star lanterns dangle in arches amid 18th-century colonnades that define the courtyard-turned-swimming pool. The pool inserts a bit of present-day luxury into the period setting. On one side of the courtyard is an outdoor living room with a large stone fireplace; on another, a casual outdoor dining area. Authentic carved double doors lead from the pool into the high-ceiling dining room. The walls are painted deep red ochre, accented by wooden beams and a dark wood dining set. There’s also a metal chandelier and fireplace original to the home.
Toward the back of the house is a living room with two fireplaces and period columns. The main bedroom on the same level also has a fireplace and French doors that open to an interior courtyard. The wow factor here is the extravagant en-suite bathroom covered in blue and white tiles made in the town of Dolores Hidalgo. Different patterns of tiles that cover everything — the vanity, walls and basin — create a dazzling effect.
The second floor has two large bedrooms with tiled bathrooms and fireplaces, a guest room and loggia that overlooks the pool. Interior pieces, such as intricate metal-worked mirrors and headboards, reflect the talent of San Miguel’s artisans. The fifth bedroom, likely built as a staff member’s quarters, has been used as an office.
The second house has a more livable, homey feel. “In the casita, there’s a small little kitchen with a table in the middle, very French, a small little living room and a main bedroom” that opens to a garden courtyard with a fountain, Dolan says. The room has spacious adjoining his-and-her bathrooms and a metalwork design over the bed that resembles a jeweled crown. There’s also a guest bedroom and loft bedroom that could be turned into a media room or a kid’s room.
Upstairs an open roof-top garden planted with different types of cacti overlooks the Baroque church tops of San Miguel. Carved concrete benches offer the perfect place to lounge or reflect. The casita has a private entry and garage; a garden path separates the two buildings.
During years-long renovations, the owners worked with interior designer Anne-Marie Midy, who specializes in blending contemporary design with traditionally made items, landscape artist Timoteo Wachter, who created the cactus garden, and local artisans. San Miguel for centuries has been a magnet for artists, a place “where the gallery-to-resident ratio might exceed that of Santa Fe, New Mexico,” a recent Travel + Leisure story says.
Style, architectural history and location make Casa Palikao a rare find, a skillful blend of past and present in a town that values both.
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