El Castillo Museum

The Story behind El Castillo Museum

Nowadays, it is a museum, but it used to be the house of a wealthy family from the 40s. The Gothic-style building was built in 1930 by the architect Nel Rodrígues inspired by castles in Loire Valley, France. 

The inspiration behind the Castle: Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley is in central France Loire River. This region is famous for various gourmet goods, world-famous wine, and stunning castles. The Castles, or Châteaux, in french, are surrounded by beautiful gardens; they follow the architectural ideals from the Renaissance and Enlightenment movements.

Most castles are built on hilltops, like the Château d’Amboise, or the Château de Chambord, while the only one built near the river is the Château de Montsoreau.

While the Loire Valley isn’t the only place with castles in France, it does have the highest amount; there are around 300 castles in the region.

Something unique about wines in Loire Valley is that the vineyards lay under the crisp North-central sun, making the best sparkling wine. In France, the region is known for the Chenin Blanc and the Sauvignon Blanc; it is the second region with the largest producer of sparkling wine.

The owners of the house

Initially, it was the house of the physician José Tobón Uribe until 1943, when he sold it to Diego Echavarría Misas. 

Who was José Tobón Uribe?

José Tobón Uribe was one of the affluent men in Medellín during his time: the largest shareholder of the Colombian Tobacco company and the largest brewery as well. In addition, he co-founded printed media such as Colombia magazine, La Paira, and El Sol newspapers.

He was known as an eccentric man; considering his fortune, he never bought a car; his house didn’t have a radio or phone, and he insisted on not using an electric doorbell and a whistle instead.

After his death, he left most of his fortune for his non-profit organization: José Tobón Uribe Hospital. He created a non-profit to give access to vulnerable communities to modern doctors and medicines. He also made a theater to promote culture and art; it was also named after him: Pablo Tobón Uribe theater.

He received the Boyacá Cross, as Knight, from president Rojas Pinilla. The Order of Boyacá, the highest peacetime decoration of Colombia, traces its origin back to the Independence wars. In 1922, civilians were also eligible for recognition.

Who was Diego Echevarria Misas?

Diego Echevarría Misas bought the house in 1943 to use it as his primary residence with his wife.

Diego Echevarría Misas was an influential Colombian businessman and philanthropist who contributed to the municipalities of Aburrá Valley, especially Itaguí.

He studied in Germany and later lived in Paris, France. After marrying Benedikta Zur Nieden, they move to Itaguí, Colombia.

He had a property there, and after looking at how farmers were uneducated, he decided to do a library. He also built a hospital for the community. Unfortunately, he was kidnapped and later found dead.

 After his death, his wife Benedikta Zur Nieden, known as Dita, decided to donate the house and all its furnishings, and it became a museum in Medellín.

El Castillo Museum and Gardens

The house

In 1971 after his husband’s death, Benedikta Zur Nieden donated the house and all its furnishings to become a museum for the local people in Itagui.

The Museum offers a permanent exposition in 14 rooms:

  • Entrance hall
  • French Salon
  • Music room
  • Louis XV room
  • Hall of the Azaleas
  • Dining rooms and reception room
  • Hall of the Gobelins
  • Rest hall
  • Library
  • Isolde room (as a child)
  • Isolde’s room (as a young lady)
  • Hall of the jukeboxes
  • Don Diego’s room
  • Doña Benedikta’s room

In addition, the Museum has an Art room, which displays work by famous plastic artists and painters. Furthermore, it has a concert hall and an artistic training center with weekly activities for visiting tourists and locals.

The gardens

The Museum has 6gardes with different styles. Diego Echevarria planted most of the species: he brought seeds from his trips to Europe and Latin America.

According to the gardeners, who work every day keeping the garden to its original splendor, Diego Echevarria thought of El Castillo as a museum from the very beginning:

“He always thought of this place as a museum; that’s why he turned the central garden into a center of local flora and used plants and flowers to create a cheerful environment for the visitors.” 

Don Diego Echevarria brought Cypresses trees from Italy, as he wanted to replicate the environment from a Middle Age castle.

In 2009, the architect Alberto Montes changed the original design and organized the gardens according to the species; therefore, nowadays, they have the following order:

  1. French Garden
  2.  Tropical Garden
  3.  Japanese Garden
  4.  Contemporary Garden
  5.  Native Forest
  6.  Azalea Patio
  7.  Succulent Garden.

Despite not having an inventory of all the species in the gardens, Fernando, a gardener who has been taking care of the gardens for 20 years, says: “Here we have agapanthus, birds of paradise, roses, orchids, bonsai, pines, anthuriums, lilies, platanillos, maraca, bromeliad, mango trees, guavas and if I keep going we will never end…the secret is to give them a lot of love, prune and fertilize with urea or triple 15”.

Daily tours

Tourists can enjoy a stroll in the Museum to appreciate the architecture and gardens. It’s better to arrive early in the morning, as it is less humid and crowded. 

It’s a 45 min tour to appreciate the gothic-style architecture and the beauty of its gardens. However, you can stay in the surroundings as long as you want.

How to visit the Museum?

If you want to visit the Museum, you must buy tickets at the entrance. The Museum has a COVID protocol in place, for which:

  • The capacity is limited to reduce physical proximity.
  • They follow a strict cleaning and safety protocol in the whole facility.
  • The routes are marked.
  • They have hydro-alcoholic gel dispensers at different points in the Museum.


  • Keep in mind that taking pictures with cameras or smartphones is strictly prohibited.
  • Do not enter the Museum with bags, suitcases, or any other large object. Currently, the reception service for luggage is not available.
  • You must present your vaccination card or digital certificate at the entrance of the Museum. This measure does not apply to minors between 0 and 12.

What clothes should I wear to go to the El Castillo Museum?

Medellin is known for its great weather and endless fresh summer. You can wear summer clothes, with sunglasses and a hat. Remember to bring a water bottle and wear sunscreen.

Is the tour available in English?

Yes. You can pay for the tour at the entrance. 

When is Museo El Castillo open?

Museo El Castillo is open:

Mon – Fri 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

What else can I do after visiting the museum?

Driving Directions From El Castillo Museum To Rebel Barbers

Driving Directions From El Castillo Museum To Lleras Park