The strange story of Miraflores Palace started with a plot of land called La Trilla, some German descendants, and ironies.
Federico Jahn and Federico Wassmann sold La Trilla to Ernesto Stein, who in turn sold it in 1884 to Joaquín Crespo, then President of the Republic (although, in truth, loyal to strongman Antonio Guzmán Blanco).
General Crespo bought the plot with his own funds; the official presidential residence was still at Santa Inés, rather small in comparison with the building being built, a palace conceived by Italian count Giussepi Orsi de Mombello, who incorporated Juan Hurtado Manrique to his team.
Gómez close Miraflores, and it remained closed until December, 1935, when General Eleazar López Contreras took over as President, turning it into the main Presidential Office.
Crespo suspended the palace’s construction during the presidencies of Juan Pablo Rojas Paúl (1888-1890) and Raimundo Andueza Palacio (1890-1892), resuming it upon his return to the presidency, between 1892 and 1898. He had traveled to Spain and brought Catalan architect Juan Bautista Sales, and a team of craftsmen and masons, as well as painter Julián Oñate. Crespo then visited the work often to oversee the progress, but as fate had it, he never inhabited the palace because he was killed in La Mata Carmelera (April 1898) leading the army against José Manuel Hernández.
Miraflores Palace was finished but its owner was dead, so a judicial execution passing from hand to hand ended up making the Venezuelan State purchase it in June, 1911. It had been leased and occupied by general Cipriano Castro since 1900, in his condition as President of the Republic, and in 1908 by Juan Vicente Gómez, when he removed Castro from power.
In 1913, caretaker President José Gil Fortoul occupied it and, between 1914 and 1921, it was inhabited by another caretaker President, Victorino Márquez Bustillos, while general Gómez lived in Maracay. Gómez reformed the National Constitution and created two vice-presidencies,one for his brother and another for his son. His brother, Juan Crisóstomo Gómez, lived in Miraflores Palace because the dictator didn’t want to leave Maracay, and was stabbed to death in the Palace on June 19th, 1923.
This made Gómez close Miraflores, and it remained closed until December, 1935, when General Eleazar López Contreras took over as President, turning it into the main Presidential Office.
Marcos Pérez Jiménez ordered a renovation by architect Luis Malaussena, with significant changes to the original style.
Isaías Medina Angarita, Rómulo Betancourt, Rómulo Gallegos, Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Germán Suárez Flamerich and Marcos Pérez Jiménez followed suit. The latter ordered a renovation by architect Luis Malaussena, with significant changes to the original style. Wolfgang Larrazabal and Edgar Sanabria didn’t occupy the place and ruled from the White Palace right before it, but Betancourt did live in it during his second government, followed by a string of presidents who used it as the seat of the Executive Branch: Raúl Leoni, Rafael Caldera, Carlos Andrés Pérez, Luis Herrera Campins, Jaime Lusinchi, Ramón Velásquez, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.
It’s a story of ironies, a palace known for years as the “Misia Jacinta Palace,” in memory of Crespo’s wife (Jacinta Parejo de Crespo, who never inhabited it) and although Guzmán Blanco fancied himself an European emperor, this institution that lasts to this day escaped his historic and aesthetic scope.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.