The Casa Borda was built in the 18th century by the French-born Don José de la Borda. Having made his fortune mining in Taxco, here he became the stuff of legend. The original building had entrances at both 33 Madero and around the corner at 26 Simón Bolívar. At the end of the 19th century, the entire giant palace was divided into five still giant buildings. Two each were on Madero and Bolívar, and these buttressed the giant corner building.
Over many years, it has housed the famous Salón Rojo, the first movie theater in the City. It was also known for the El Harem bathhouse and the Hotel Coliseo. Today the building stands out for remarkable architectural details, especially the carved stone on the street level. But the apartment building at 26 Bolívar is the only part to have faithfully restored and maintained some of the 18th-century interior. Originally, one could have walked the entire way around the block on the 2nd or 3rd-level balconies which are only partly extant today.
The Casa Borda mansion was built as a gift to the wife of Don Borda. And intended to rival the homes of the descendants of Hernán Cortés. The work of architect Francisco Guerrero y Torres, the interior was said to have been richly decorated in carpets, draperies, paintings, porcelain, clocks, sculptures and richly carved furniture.
The building was purchased by Santander Serfín bank in the late 20th century. For a time it housed the Serfín Museum, a collection of indigenous costumes, clothing and embroidery. This has unfortunately closed although the bank remains. It’s one among many of the palaces of the City center, former residential buildings from the colonial period.