CubaPLUS Magazine

House of a Hundred Doors, a heritage jewel

By: Mayra Pardillo, Photos: Garal
House of a Hundred Doors, a heritage jewel

The people of Sancti Spíritus, including historians and researchers, say that in their city, the fourth of the first seven towns founded by the Spanish in Cuba, there are three architectural jewels: the Main Parish Church, the bridge over the Yayabo River -the only one of its kind in the country- and the Main Theater.
House of a Hundred Doors, a heritage jewel
And they are not wrong, but this charming city has other buildings that could also be qualified as jewels and among them are those housing the Rubén Martínez Villena Provincial Library and the Museum of Colonial Art.

It is the majestic latter building that will be our subject, the first two-story building in the town, with more than a hundred openings letting in air and light, including doors, windows and shutters.

The construction dates from the middle of the 18th century. It underwent several transformations by its former owners, the Valle Iznaga family, and experts say that today it has 19th century architectural characteristics.

Features include thick, precious wood-beamed ceilings, French shutters, stained glass windows and two beautiful courtyards, a central one adorned by a fountain, and another used for parking.
House of a Hundred Doors, a heritage jewel
Inaugurated on October 10, 1967, it treasures valuable collections of decorative arts, such as porcelain made in the most prestigious factories of Europe and lamps from the luxurious rooms.

The luxurious tastes of its wealthy owners and their ostentatious vanity is seen in the motto of the family coat of arms, which speaks clearly of their power, at least in monetary terms: &He who is worth the most is not worth as much as Valle."

Known as Palacio Valle Iznaga, due to the surnames of two wealthy families, most people in Sancti Spíritus call the building the ‘Museo de Arte Colonial’ and ‘Casa de las Cien Puertas’.

An oral legend tells that the piano in the mansion’s music room was carried to Sancti Spíritus on the shoulders of slaves from the port of Casilda, in central-southern Trinidad, and that it was never played by the spoilt young lady for whom it was meant.

The bedrooms are decorated according to the tastes of the members of the family that once lived in the spectacular mansion.

The music and tea rooms, as well as the tableware on display in the dining room, are proof of their sophistication.

Like all old mansions, this one needs to be kept in good condition, and Martha Cuellar, its director, recently explained to the local press the imminent need to repair the iconic building.

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