Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer) is a private collection of museum-quality Mexican folk art in Valladolid Mexico which houses over 3000 unique pieces.
This 1670m2 (18000 sq. ft.) private home / museum is owned by an American couple, John and Dorianne Venator, who bought this traditional hacienda-style style house in ruins and spent nearly 10 years renovating it into a masterpiece of colonial architecture. It is the largest of its kind in all of Mexico, and they open their home to the public for daily guided tours.
When you visit Casa del los Venados yourself, you will also understand the statements famously quoted by the owners, “a house is a hobby” and “collecting is a passion and an incurable disease, but one from which you never die”.
Here is everything you need to know about this spectacular museum located in Valladolid in Mexico, just two hours away from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Did You Know?
- Founded in 1543 by the nephew of Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo, Valladolid was the second city built by Spanish colonizers (after Merida in 1542).
- Valladolid is named after the city that was then the capital of Spain.
- In 2012, Valladolid was elected Pueblo Magico (Magic Town).
“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.”– Frida Kahlo –
Casa de los Venados – Valladolid Mexico
Casa de los Venados Visitor Information
- Calle 40 #204 x 41 col. Centro Valladolid (a very short distance from the main square)
- Approximately 90 minutes
- 10:00am – 2:00pm, Everyday
Guided Tours (reservations are advised)
Guided tours are provided every day at 10:00am and on the hour each hour until 1:00pm (please confirm tour times on their website below)
- Sunday – Guided Tours in both English and Spanish
- Monday to Saturday – Guided Tours in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German
N.B. The guided tours take around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the guide and the size of the group.
- Free however you are invited to provide a ‘donation’ (suggested 100 MXN / USD$5 / AUD$6.50)
- All proceeds are given to local community organizations and charities including Clínica San Lucas which does surgeries for people with limited resources, and the local Lion’s Club project which buys and fits hearing aids for children from low-income families, so they will have a better chance of receiving a quality education.
A Tour of Casa de los Venados – Valladolid Mexico
A visit to Casa de los Venados is a must on every visitors list to Valladolid in Mexico. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once the grand doors open, you know you are in for a very special experience.
A guided tour through this 400+ year old private residence (yes, this is where they live!) is fascinating as you hear not only the history of the restoration of the house, but also about the collection of Mexican folk and contemporary art you will see throughout this magnificent property.
In addition, the guides are extremely passionate, knowledgeable and friendly making this is a very memorable experience that we cannot recommend highly enough!
Casa de los Venados – The Beginnings
John and Dorianne Venator have been avid collectors of art for decades. When they decided to move to Mexico, they decided to look for a colonial-style house with lots of space for their ever-growing art collection. In 1990, they found an abandoned and dilapidated structure in Valladolid in Mexico which they purchased as their future new home.
The original expectation was for a three to five year remodelling project, however, the project took closer to 9 years. John and Dorianne have been quoted as saying:
“In the meantime, we have a new life-long hobby, since Casa de los Venados is a project that will never ever be truly finished, in our life time.”
Casa de los Venados – The Home Itself
- When the original home was built, most of the ceilings were 8 meters high (as most other “important houses in town only had 6 meter high ceilings).
- Almost all the rooms are 5 meters wide which is the maximum they would cut the vigas (wooden beams) that held up the stone ceiling.
- The walls are approximately one meter thick, constructed of rubble stone.
- The architect of Casa de los Venados and the house itself have won four major architectural awards over the years.
- The owners of the home hold concerts and artistic performances at Casa de los Venados, which are open to the public, as well as opening the house for major special events held by the Governor of Yucatán, the Mexican National Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Tourism of Yucatán, and the mayor of Valladolid.
Main Bedroom Suite – The Venado Suite
The two-story suite within the main building has a ground floor with a completed living room, dining room, guest bathroom, and spacious kitchen. The second floor features the master bedroom, bath, shower stall, large walk-in closet, sitting room, dressing room, as well as a library and studio / office down the hall.
Our tour took us through the main living and dining area, as well as past the kitchen. We felt we were really imposing as food was being prepared in the kitchen, and the dining table was set ready for visitors later that evening. The dining and living room were spectacular and a feast for the sensations with bright amazing art work everywhere you looked, as well as the delicious smells coming for the kitchen!
Guest Bedroom Suites
Our tour guide took us through two of the five guest suites and you would only imagine any guest would love their room! Each suite had a two story living room area, a bedroom loft and a luxurious bathroom with an indoor shower and an outdoor shower in their own private garden. The suites were very comfortably furnished with plush furniture, king beds, air-conditioning, refrigerators, and many other amenities such as coffee machines. In each of the private attached gardens to the suites, there are large ceramic tile murals by the artist Daniel Rosel.
Also, all suites have names according to their decorated / artistic theme – Maya, Izamal, Valladolid, Diego, or, Frida.
Jonas and I both love beautiful outdoor areas, and the outdoor area at Casa de los Venados took our breath away! This area featured a large landscaped garden at the back of the house along with a swimming pool inlaid with Italian bright white and brilliant dark blue glass tiles. By crossing the marble and glass bridge which allows access over the swimming pool, you are greeted by a small but very functional gym, a spa, back yard bar and additional sunken conversation seating area.
In the centre of the house is a beautifully landscaped courtyard with a large contemporary Mexican stone fountain as the centrepiece.
Along the width of the front of the house there is a large roof top terrace with its own bar, bathroom, and covered seating area which is used by the owners and their guests on a regular basis. We were not allowed access to this area as a part of the tour, but our guide said it was a very special area with views of San Gervasio Cathedral across the street which is especially pretty at night when the steeples are illuminated by the lights.
Casa de los Venados – The Art
The property features over 3000 pieces of museum-quality Mexican folk art which is displayed everywhere you look. Interestingly, and surprisingly to us, the art is not safely tucked away in glass display cases, but displayed in the context they were originally designed for. Every piece of furniture is a piece of art in its own right.
Mexican folk art is rich, diverse, and vibrant and represent, or are born of cultural traditions and aesthetics from the 32 different regions / states in Mexico. The folk art pieces on display are a result of 35 plus years of collecting directly from artists throughout Mexico. Some of the artists are well-known, and some art pieces have been collected from roadside stalls.
The pieces are varied and include wool hand-woven rugs from a village near Oaxaca, contemporary paintings, ceramics, watercolours, barro (clay), and carved wooden folk art items. One of the most memorable pieces of art is in the foyer at the entrance, probably a highlight because it is one of the very first pieces you see upon entering the main door. The work was commissioned from Luis and Jorge Valencia of Oaxaca and it is a ceramic mural (3.5m x 5.2m) depicting life about 100 years ago in a colourful Mayan village.
FAQ’S – Visiting Valladolid Mexico
Where is Valladolid?
Valladolid is centrally located in Mexico’s popular Yucatán peninsula region and is the third largest city in the state. It is quite a distance from any beaches but perfectly located for exploring Mayan ruins, cenotes, and much, much more. It is the ideal base for visiting one of the famous New Wonder of the World, Chichén Itzá ruins, which are located close by.
Is Valladolid Safe?
We found Valladolid to be one of the safest towns in the Yucatán. Everyone was extremely friendly and we felt very comfortable walking around the town at any time of the day. It is still advisable to remain alert of your surroundings and be cautious as you would in any new city when travelling.
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance when travelling overseas. Insurance will cover important things like emergency medical hospitalisation / evacuation, baggage delays and trip cancellation. We recommend SafetyWing for quality travel insurance you can trust, at affordable rates.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Valladolid Mexico?
The Yucatán Peninsula has two seasons and experiences tropical weather all year round. This makes it a great year-round destination.
- The best time to visit Valladolid is between the months of November to March / April. These months offer the best conditions as temperatures are at their mildest with less chance of rain.
- May to July are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures of 37⸰C / 97⸰F.
- The chances of rain increase in August and September as these are the rainiest months in Valladolid.
How Long Should You Stay in Valladolid?
We highly recommend making Valladolid your base for exploring not only this beautiful colonial town, but also the many attractions in its surrounding areas. In three days you will see the top things to do in Valladolid, and have the opportunity to do some day trips to nearby towns and / or Chichén Itzá and some cenotes. We extended our stay to five days and this gave us the opportunity to thoroughly explore all the things to do in this beautiful part of the Yucatán.
How to Get Around Valladolid
The town of Valladolid is very small and easy to get around. If arriving by bus, you will be dropped off in the centre of town, and from here, the major sights to be seen in town can easily be explored by walking. However, if you are planning to explore further out of town, there are many other transportation options including taxis, bicycle rentals, and scooter rentals.
N.B. Personally, we chose to rent a car and drive from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid. We love the freedom that our own car allows us and the ease with which we could travel to the attractions we wanted to visit in the surrounding areas of Valladolid. However, there are no car rental agencies in Valladolid so you’ll want to organise for pick up at the Cancun Airport, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Mérida.
Things to Do in Valladolid Mexico
In Summary – Casa de los Venados Valladolid Mexico
Casa de Los Venados, the Mexican folk art museum in Valladolid Mexico is one of our all-time favourite museums anywhere in the world. This museum is not like any ordinary museum. The house itself is steeped in history and is absolutely gorgeous and exudes the owners, the Venators, passion and love for Mexican folk art and crafts. This is a spectacular private Mexican arts and crafts collection that should not be missed!
You don’t need to be an art lover to walk away impressed.
Have you visited Valladolid and been to Casa de los Venados? Are you planning a trip and looking for more things to do in Valladolid? Post your tips and questions below.
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