The Colegio de las Vizcaínas in Mexico City has seen a lot of history pass through its doors since it was founded in 1767, from celebrity weddings, celebrations of the powerful, parties with fashion icons and even becoming a representation of Latin America’s Middle Earth . And it is that this educational institution, one of the only ones that has remained open continuously since the time of the Spanish colony in the Americas, has something for everyone and everything.
And it is that the building, designed by the architect José Miguel de Rivera, is a special place that, since its creation, has been the scene of historical moments in the lives of thousands of people, and in recent years, of extraordinary events. The latest? The premiere of the series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”, considered the most expensive in world television.
everything for women
Spaniards Manuel de Aldaco, Ambrosio de Meave and Francisco de Echeveste arrived in Mexico in the 17th century with the aim of increasing their fortunes. Once established, the entrepreneurs recreated the Confraternity of Our Lady of Aranzazu in the New World, a Marian order from the Basque Country where they originated.
The confraternity’s mission was to help the most vulnerable women in Mexican society at the time, such as widows, orphans, and single mothers. Finally they decided to open a school.
Thirty years after construction began in what is now known as the historic center of Mexico City, the Royal College of San Ignacio de Loyola opened its doors on September 9, 1767, with the dual function of admitting women without money or family, such as widows and orphans, and providing formal education for girls. Despite its name, the institution was America’s first secular educational center.
Known as the Colegio de las Vizcaínas, due to the name of the street and the square next to it, it continues to function today. It has been mixed since the 1970s and is believed to be the only one in Mexico – and possibly one of the few in the Americas – that has operated without interruption since colonial times. He also pioneered the empowerment of women through education.
Weddings, parties and parades
To generate its own funds, the Colegio de las Vizcaínas opened its doors a few years ago for exclusive events, mostly held in its famous patios. Yhadira Carrillo and Juan Collado, Lucero, Angelica Vale, Ximena Navarrete and the daughters of some of the country’s most influential businessmen and politicians got married there.
Cuban-American driver Raul de Molina recently recalled the adventures he had to go around the enclosure wall in hopes of sneaking into Lucero and Mijares’ wedding party in January 1997.
Angelica Valle also remembered with great emotion the great party she had there to celebrate her wedding with businessman and producer Otto Padron, father of her two children Angelica Maciel and Daniel, better known as Danico.
Mexico’s Miss Universe Ximena Navarrete and businessman Juan Carlos Valladares also celebrated their wedding there, although neither marriage has yet overcome the controversy created by the civil wedding that united the lives of lawyer Juan Collado and former soap opera actress Yadira Carrillo.
At the time, controversy was sparked by the fact that Collado was also the partner of actress Leticia Calderon – with whom he had two children – when he left her for Carrillo, who was supposed to be Calderon’s best friend. Today, the lavish celebration is associated with a waste of possible public goods, as Collado has been in prison for three years while facing money laundering and organized crime charges. For years he was a lawyer for former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among many businessmen and politicians.
High school and university graduations, important birthdays, product launches are also held within the historic walls of the Colegio de las Vizcaínas, and in 2016 the building was the main venue for Mexico Fashion Week.
Volcanic stones and legends
Legends surrounding the Colegio de las Vizcaínas abound. Some revolve around its creation, such as that its three founders had the idea, horrified by the behavior of three young girls they saw in the area where the institution now stands, which at the time was one of the most disreputable in the city . It is also guaranteed to have gold and silver coins in the corner of the base. Other stories tell of deaths and ghosts.
As is often the case, it’s hard to separate fantasy from reality, but nothing beats rocks to ground reality. In the case of the Colegio de las Vizcaínas, it is a volcanic stone known as tezontle, with which much of the neo-baroque design of the building is made.
Described as “a real architectural jewel”, the main facade “has rectangular windows in the first body and octagonal windows in the upper part. There are three entrances, the sides are identical, number 21 of Vizcaínas has a coat of arms, San Ignacio of Loyola with two angels and Our Lady of Aranzazu: the central door is distinguished by being baroque with pilasters that have organic motifs and each pilaster is crowned with tops. At the top, there are three niches in which you can see San Ignacio of Loyola to the center and next to it San Luis de Gonzaga and San Estanislao Kostka,” describes the book “The Altar in the Ibero-American Space: Form, Function and Iconography.”
The nine courts, where most events take place today, are also magnificent, retaining their original floors and all the features that made them unique for their time.
The most famous is the main courtyard, which is the second largest in Mexico after the National Palace. The fountain located in the center is one of the first to be fed by the aqueduct known as Salto el agua and is surrounded by semicircular arches. Other patios are the one with the tiles, which also has a fountain but is lined with Talavera ceramics, the “chocolate” and the one with the cedars, where there is still a tree of this kind.
Feminine power as connection
This summer, the historic building became the epicenter of J.J.’s Middle-earth. RR Tolkien in America. And it is that there, in the historic center of the Mexican capital, the world premiere of “The Rings of Power”, a prequel to the legendary films “The Lord of the Rings”, considered the most expensive series in history, took place. world television, with an estimated cost of $715 million.
Just as the Colegio de las Vizcaínas was created for female education, in Tolkien’s books women are very powerful and have crucial roles in the Rings of Power series.
“That’s one of the most special features of these stories, that strength of their female characters, and it’s been faithfully maintained in the series,” actress Morfid Clarke, who plays the elf warrior Galadriel, told Yahoo Life in the Cate Blanchett movies.
Tolkien’s Magic in Mexico
Fascinated by Mexico and the facilities where the premiere took place, Clark declared herself a “Mexico fan and grateful to be invited.” Although spicy is not her favorite dressing, she fell in love with the culture, Mexican gastronomy and, to her surprise, the architecture.
“All the places they took us to were dazzling in their beauty and history,” he said. Before the premiere, the cast participated in a photo shoot at the beautiful Gran Hotel Ciudad de México.
An army of decorators, event planners, publicists, chefs, service staff and many more were stationed at the Colegio de las Vizcaínas to transform the venue into one of the spectacular sets seen in the series.
The stone building, which took 30 years to build and is continuously maintained, looked like a magical place and a part of the history of the kingdoms from the Lord of the Rings story.
Ismael Cruz Cordoba, the Puerto Rican who plays the elf Arondir, felt “back at school in New Zealand, but with Latin mischief”.