The White City of Mérida, in the Yucatán, became wealthy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the production of henequen. Green Gold, as it was also known, is the fiber of agave plants, grown on nearby farms, that was woven into rope. For a short while, in fact, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other city in the world.
This wealth is still evident in the numerous fine houses to be found in the historic city that is still a vibrant cultural and financial hub. Many of the colonial-era homes, built by Spanish immigrants, are in the Moorish style, which reflects the Arabic influence seen in their native Andalusia. This house, in the center of the bustling city with about 1.2 million residents, is currently listed at just under US$800,000, and clearly reflects and celebrates that Moorish influence. Listed by Ross Schiering at Mérida Centro Real Estate, the house sits on a generous mid-block plot of about 7,500 square feet and contains and three spacious bedrooms and three updated bathrooms in a commodious 6,953 square feet.
The house features numerous outdoor spaces, including a wraparound roof terrace with a couple of pergolas, but the most striking outdoor spot is unquestionably the lush central courtyard and pool area. An arcade of arabesque-style arches surrounds the courtyard, just as in a Moorish riad. While in Morocco the centerpiece for the riad would be a fountain, here it is a large swimming pool. There is, however, also a fountain as well as lush gardens bursting with plants and flowers.
Another Moorish inheritance are the zellige-like tile work seen throughout the home. The encaustic cement tiles, which originated in Spain and Portugal and are known throughout the Yucatán as pasta tiles, are made with molds into which bits of colored cement paste are painstakingly poured. The results are elaborate, multi-colored geometric designs and the pasta tile floors of this house are particularly beautiful and noteworthy, with a unique design in each room.
As large as a suburban villa, the urban residence is comfortably roomy, with a couple of sitting rooms, a game room with vintage pool table, and a simple but elegant formal dining room as well as a separate breakfast room just off the exuberantly tiled kitchen. Each bedroom has a private bath and plenty of room for a lounge area, while the main bedroom is a two-room suite that opens to the courtyard.
The best part? Most of the furnishings are included with the sale, making for a truly turnkey — and very colorful — offering.