María Félix’s House of Turtles was built in the 1970s by the talented Pepe Mendoza, an architect with a very European sense of architecture. It was inspired by Italian villas located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. As a tribute to the artist that the French called “La plus belle femme du monde» (the most beautiful woman in the world), we work in the conservation and preservation of the architectural heritage that has the seal of “La Doña” (the Missus) stamped in each space, stroke, and sculpture.
The current furnishings belonged to Queen María Jose I Di Savoia of the Royal family of Italy; this follows the line of exclusivity in which the most recognized diva from Mexico lived.
Preserved inside the house are works of art from Russian-French painter Antoine Tzapoff, her last partner; these contribute to the majesty and exquisite décor that have always been distinctive of this property.
A highlight are the Baccarat chandeliers. These originate from the last villa in which Reza Pahlavi, a Shah of Iran and one of the richest men in the world, lived during his exile in Cuernavaca.
From the ample and enviable collection of porcelain, Persian carpets, and many curious pieces that the artist accumulated during life; currently porcelain, silverware, and multiple objects can be admired here.
“María Bonita” named her villa “The House of Turtles” from to her admiration and affection for reptiles.
The house is built in two floors and has a smaller third floor with exceptional views of the jungle of Cuernavaca.
Access is by Palmira Avenue passing by many discreet and private driveways; this is the richest and most elegant avenue of Cuernavaca; only the great properties of the town exist here with their sumptuous gardens, although nothing can be seen through the thick foliage that guards them. Venetian mosaic, a handicraft that is now typical of affluent Cuernavaca, shows the turtles that have given their name to the house of La Doña. To the left of the swimming pool, the blue mosaic floor and terracotta work framed in stone can be seen. In the background and over pedestals of Portuguese tile there are two white-stone Italian sculptures depicting male shepherds . The oval niches feature a series of back-lit Roman Caesars. The arches are decorated with Portuguese tiles and around the swimming pool there are large-sized splendid Talavera de Puebla flower pots.There are many turtles in this Cuernavaca villa. From the portico, the front of the façade, there is a turtle carved in stone quarry. Inside the house there is a multicolored stained-glass ceiling. At the bottom of the pool there are three turtles depicted in Venetian mosaic. The handrail of the stairway features stunning plaster turtle shells that never fail to catch the eye. Maria herself supervised the construction work with great ability and the high standards that marked an opulent style which is passionate of both antiquities and art.