Mansion of Ximénez-Franchi

Ximénez-Franchi Mansion

The house of the Ximénez-Franchi  is undoubtedly one of the most monumental historical urban mansions of the Canary Islands. Located in the town of Orotava, following the famous "Casa de los Balcones" (The house of the balconies), this fantastic 17th century building has not received, in our humble opinion, the recognition it deserves, perhaps because it is in the shadow of its known neighbor or mistakenly considered by many as a mere prolongation of the previous, or any case, whatever is the reason, few Canarian urban buildings have the bearing and the ancestry of this exceptional mansion.

This Tenerife historic mansion was built around 1642 by Doña María Ximénez de Fonte del Castillo and after passing through many hands, it is currently destined to be a center of interpretation and dissemination of the so-called "ephemeral art", an euphemism which wants to designate the beautiful Orotava´s tradition of making flower carpets and colorful mineral carpets of different natural pigmentation, on the occasion of the celebrations of the Octave of Corpus Christi. The house, currently under municipal ownership, is therefore run today by the association of flower carpet makers.

Thus, in addition to the delight that involves touring the courtyard, rooms and galleries of this fantastic mansion, the visitor may have the opportunity to explore the techniques and materials that have been used since 1847 in La Orotava to decorate the paving stones of the historical streets of the town and that finish, at the end of the festive day, blurred to the step of the procession.

It was Mrs. Leonor de Monteverde who had the initiative, after making a trip to Florence, to decorate the stretch of street before her palace in La Orotava and from then on, the rest of the neighbors have replicated her action to this day.

This large Canarian house of three stories is crowned by a large Canarian balcony, all in the traditional wood of tea (Canarian pine). These balconies unlike what you might think today, did not have a residential function if not quite the opposite, they served along with the entire top floor of grain warehouse, not being uncommon in the distant past, to see them covered in corn cobs or other foods, hanged to be dried, to preserve and store.

Under the splendid balcony of tea four large windows are opened, surmounted by a frame-frontispiece also of tea, from which four large vultures or condors emerge, in what constitutes a singular ornamental motif of which I have no knowledge of existence in any other house of the islands.In front of each window hangs a balcony of forge, under which are directly positioned, also in tea wood, three windows and the entrance door.

Behind the great door, the characteristic entrance hall opens into a beautiful patio or courtyard, presided over by two stone pinnacles. On the left, the great monumental staircase rises, presided by the image of Saint Laurence in a niche, also in wood of tea. The image in question was probably brought from the ill-fated convent of Saint Laurence, the so-called Escorial of the Canaries, partially disappeared after a fire back in the year 1801.

After a rich succession of halls with tea floors and beautiful coffered ceilings, you get to the roof where you can enjoy a privileged view over the historic center of La Orotava and its once fertile and green valley; a great way to end our tour of this great manor house in Tenerife.