The Source of the Risco – Mexico City, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

The Source of the Risco

An extravagant 18th-century fountain built with bits of broken ceramic.  


Step inside the Museum Casa del Risco (once owned by the historian and politician Don Isidro Fabela), and you’ll find a gorgeous fountain attached to one of the walls. The elaborate structure is covered with exquisite porcelain plates and cups, as well as mirrors and mother-of-pearl shells.

There’s a good reason for the fountain’s eclectic assortment of decorations. When it was built in the 18th century, it was so expensive to have decorated tableware that when a plate or a cup broke, the owners used the pieces as decorative ornaments. At this particular house, that tradition was used to form a magnificent fountain.

Gazing at the fountain reveals a wealth of ceramic treasures. It features Chinese porcelain; blue and white plates from the Ming Dynasty; red, blue, and green imari porcelain from Japan; Spanish Talavera; and ceramics from Puebla. You can also spot porcelain from Germany and England, as well as shells, mirrors, and stone sculptures. It’s amazing to admire the columns made from Chinese porcelain cups, or the Talavera sculpture of Samson fighting with a lion.

Although the museum houses the amazing European art collection of Isidro Fabela, this fountain is its jewel. But it wasn’t always treated as such. The house was abandoned during the Mexican revolution and the fountain was even used as a bathroom. It wasn’t until Isidro Fabela bought the house in the 1930s and discovered the remains that the fountain was restored.

Know Before You Go

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The museum is named as "Casa del Risco" because it was over a crag (risco). The owners built a turret that was actively used by sharp shooters during the Mexican–American War—don't forget to visit the turret, which you can do by entering by a tiny door on the first floor. 

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September 26, 2018

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