1492 – 1704
The Figueroa y Córdoba: Lords of Villaseca.
In this era, the longest of all covering seven owners, there was a gradual transformation from medieval house to renaissance palace.
Gómez Suárez de Figueroa.
Established the family estate on 2nd June 1492. He died childless and was succeeded by his nephew.
Bernardino de Figueroa y Córdoba
Gómez de Figueroa y Córdoba (+1562)
I) 1st Lord of Villaseca due to Royal concession in 1559. He acquired the Puentezuela de Tres Caños houses in 1545, where today we find the Courtyard of the Cats. He lost them to his daughter through a lawsuit in 1561.
Luis Gómez de Figueroa y Córdoba (+1609)
2nd Lord of Villaseca. Responsible for the layout of the current Reception Courtyard.
Gómez de Figueroa y Córdoba (1588-1636)
3rd Lord of Villaseca. Created the Courtyard of the Bars.
Luis Gómez Bernardo Fernández de Córdoba y Figueroa (1630-1692)
4th Lord of Villaseca. He repurchased the Puentezuela de Tres Caños houses (Courtyard of the Cats) in 1647
Gómez Fernández de Córdoba y Figueroa (1647-1704)
1st Marquis of Villaseca, a title bestowed by Philip V. He died childless and was succeeded by his nephew, beginning a new era. Coat of arms of the Fernández de Córdoba family.
Escudo de armas de la familia Fernández de Córdoba
1704 – 1788
The Fernandez de Mesa: Marquises of Villaseca
Alonso Fernández de Mesa y Argote (1670- 1711)
2nd Marquis of Villaseca.
Diego Fernández de Mesa Argote y Fernández de Córdoba (+1735)
3rd Marquis of Villaseca. He died childless and was succeeded by his brother.
I4th Marquis of Villaseca, Luis Fernández de Mesa Argote, Dean of the Cathedral of Córdoba, who renounces and who is succeeded by his brother, Pedro Fernández de Mesa Argote y Fernández de Córdoba (1706-1738)
5th Marquis of Villaseca. He is succeeded by his daughter.
Ana Rafaela Fernández de Mesa y Argote
A woman who left her mark. In this era, which covers almost all of the 18th century, the main protagonist was a woman: Ana Rafaela Fernández de Mesa y Argote (1737-1788), 6th Marquise of Villaseca, eleventh owner of the palace. The Marquise was directly responsible, among other things, for the significant reforms to the palace in the 18th century. This led to the creation of the rooms to store the Viana Historical Archive, a true gem documenting the Spanish nobility. During her period of ownership the Madama Courtyard was remodelled and the Baroque Courtyard of the Archive was constructed. The Marquise married Fernando Cabrera Gómez de Cárdenas y de la Cerda, Count of Villanueva de Cárdenas, a marriage which brought together the marquisate and the county, and their respective titles and properties. These were inherited by her son.
1788 – 1871
The Cabrera: Marquises of Villaseca and Counts of Villanueva de Cárdenas
Diego Rafael Cabrera y Fernández de Mesa
(1767-1816), 7th Marquis of Villaseca and Count of Villanueva de Cárdenas. In 1814 he added the houses of the Counts of Torres Cabrera, located next to Viana Palace, having swapped them for an estate. As a result, the size of the palace almost doubled to include the plots and spaces today occupied by the Garden and the Courtyards of the Pool, Well, Gardeners, Chapel and Gate.
Fernando Rafael Cabrera y Pérez de Saavedra
(1798-1843), 8th Marquis of Villaseca.
Juan Bautista Cabrera y Bernuy (1830-1871)
9th Marquis of Villaseca. He died childless and appointed his wife, María del Carmen Pérez de Barradas y Bernuy (1828-1901), as sole heir.
Juan Bautista Cabrera Bernuy, 9th Marquis of Villaseca, with the Cross of the Order of Charles III. Photo from 1870.
María del Carmen Pérez de Barradas y Bernuy (1828-1901): entrance door to the Viana.
Portrait of María Carmen Pérez de Barradas, 1st Marquise of Viana, dedicated to her nephew, José Saavedra y Salamanca, the future 2nd Marquis: To my darling nephew Pepe, from your aunt who loves you very much. Carmen. Photo from 1887.
The Marquise widow of the last Cabrera produced a shift in the history of the palace by remarrying Teobaldo Saavedra y Cueto, 1st Marquis of Viana and son of the Duke of Rivas, the famous romantic Cordoban writer. The Marquise had no children with her first husband and neither with the second. It was fate that the nephew of the 1st Marquis of Viana, José Saavedra and Salamanca, became the sole heir of the great fortune of titles and properties of his uncles; properties among which was Viana Palace, inaugurating the fourth era in the history of the owners of the palace.
1871 - 1980
The Saavedra: Marquises of Viana
José Saavedra y Salamanca (1870-1927), 2nd Marquis of Viana: the energetic nobleman.
The 2nd Marquis of Viana inherited a vast fortune from his uncle and aunt, and his properties included Viana Palace. A military man by profession, he was a personal friend of King Alfonso XIII and an influential man in the court and government of his day. However, the Marquis was also an energetic man. He founded the Royal Aero Club of Spain and was the first Spanish man to take off in a motorised device.
Portrait of the 2nd Marquis of Viana when he was 33 years old. Photo from 1903.
A great expert on agricultural issues, he had large olive businesses and was president of the National Association of Olive Producers. When it came to Viana, the 2nd Marquis was the man behind the initiative to turn the palace into a house-museum, purchasing valuable collections of tiles, leather and a hunting library, among others, and personally overseeing the work preparing the palace to exhibit these. Bearing witness to this are the many letters and documents stored in the Viana Historical Archive. He was responsible for making the then classic set of postcards of the palace and its courtyards, with the aim of making them public. This era also provides the largest collection of photographs, many taken in the courtyards.
King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia in the garden of Viana Palace, accompanied by the Marquises of Viana, their daughters Carmen and Leonor and the Count de Montijo.
We have no idea what else this restless and inventive Marquis might have achieved had he not suddenly and surprisingly died at the age of 57. His death was a real social event for the newspapers at that time and various obituaries were written.
Fausto Saavedra y Collado (1902-1980)
3rd Marquis of Viana. He died childless, appointing his wife, Sofía Amelia de Lancaster y Bleck (1904-1982), as his heir.
Profile portrait of Fausto Saavedra, 3rd Marquis of Viana, in 1928.
Sofía Amelia de lancaster y Bleck (1904-1982)
3rd Marquise of Viana. She died childless and sold the palace in 1980. Along with her husband, she was responsible for the current appearance of the palace, particularly the service courtyards added in the 19th century. She gave these a more stately appearance by decorating them with archaeological and decorative objects. She transferred many works of art and pieces of furniture from her palace in Madrid (the current official residency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to Viana Palace in Córdoba, where they have been located since the mid 20th century. The 3rd Marquises of Viana received the Gold Medal of Córdoba in 1963.
Wedding of Fausto Saavedra, 3rd Marquis of Viana, and Sofía Amelia de Lancaster y Bleck. Wedding held in Moratalla Palace in Hornachuelos (Córdoba) in 1927.
1980 to date
Two years before the death of Fausto Saavedra y Collado, who was childless, the 3rd Marquises had tried to sell the palace.
This can be seen from an advert appearing in the French press, showing a photograph of the Reception Courtyard along with the announcement that a “15th century Spanish palace” was being put up for sale. When news of this reached Córdoba there was popular outcry and a demand for the palace to be claimed as heritage for the Cordoban people, in which journalists, cultural associations and politicians of very different political views took part in. An agreement was finally reached with the 3rd Marquise and the palace, with its works of art, and subsequently the Historical Archive, were acquired by the Caja Provincial de Córdoba (currently called Cajasur) (Provincial Savings Bank of Córdoba) in July 1980.
On 31 October 1981 it opened its doors to the public, who, despite having lived alongside Viana Palace for five long centuries, had never previously been allowed inside. It was declared a National Historical-Artistic Monument in 1981 and a Historical-Artistic Garden in 1983. Nowadays, Viana Palace is managed by the Fundación CajaSur, which has turned it into not just a tourist and heritage site, but also an addition to the cultural scene in Córdoba.