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The Russian Embassy in Mexico is housed in a legendary mansion on the very corner of the La Condesa neighborhood. It’s a major landmark and a frequent point of reference for Mexico City residents.
The famous mansion dates from 1911, the very twilight of the Porfirato period. The house was built on the remnants of the Hacienda Santa Catarina del Arenal. A farm that produced pulque, beef, and fruit, it took up most of the Condesa we know today and included parts of Roma and Juárez. The hacienda that had been founded in 1610 was then purchased by the Count of Miravalle in 1704. He presented it to his wife, and the name we know today (La Condesa) is for her, María Magdalena Catarina Dávalos de Bracamonte y Orozco, the third Countess of Miravalle.
The farm was sold from the Miravalles in 1825. In 1869, it was acquired by the Escandón family. A granddaughter, Dolores Rubín Escandón received it as a wedding gift in 1911. The mansion was begun soon after. Don Fernando Gómez de Parada, her new husband and an architect himself, relied on Mauricio María y Campos Elguero to intervene at the site. María y Campos had already converted the burned Iturbide Theater into the Legislative Palace on Donceles that we see today, although his career was cut short when he died in 1912.
The House of Gómez de Parada/Rubín somehow came to host the couples nine children, although the Mexican Revolution ravaged around them. Despite the remarkable upheavals, they remained in the house until 1922, the same year the new USSR opened its first embassy. The empty mansion was eventually rented to the Brazilian government. They used it as an embassy for some years. But in 1942, the USSR purchased the house intent upon re-opening their own embassy here.
The property has been the subject of cloak and dagger speculation ever since. It’s thought to have been particularly important during the 1950s at the height of the cold war. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the building was converted to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in 1991.
It’s still a remarkable property, and one that’s essential to anyone wandering between La Condesa and Tacubaya.