Edward Hopper in Saltillo

The former Hotel Arizpe Sáinz, where Edward Hopper stayed on his visits to Saltillo

The former Hotel Arizpe Sáinz today, where the painter Edward Hopper stayed on visits to Saltillo

After a hot weekend, the temperature drops by twenty degrees overnight and the morning brings a discernible chill and a fine rain. Saltillo has been the surprise of my Mexican trip, a kind of ugly, lovely town, as Dylan said of Swansea. However, the comparison is not to be taken seriously: Saltillo has a population of nearly 800,000, and serves as the capital of the desert state of Coahuila, which stretches all the way to the US border. Yesterday, after doing a radio interview, I walk around the historic centre with Julián and Mercedes, and pass a rather striking building of Colonial aspect, which Julián informs me was once the Hotel Arizpe Sáinz – now defunct – the favoured residence of Edward Hopper, during his visits to Saltillo in the 1940s. Attracted by the desert and the extraordinary light, Hopper made three visits, painting watercolours from the roof of the hotel. According to testimonies from ex-employees of the Cine Palacio, and others who knew Hopper during this period, he developed a love-hate relationship with the northern Mexican city, admiring the architecture, but not the climate or certain aspects of the ‘local character’ or city life, which he found noisy and congested. In fact, it sounds as though he didn’t really like the place much at all, and complained about the walls and towers and electric signs that obstructed the views. Nor could he find the right sort of blue-green oil paint for the mountains, which must have been a bummer. In fact this is the reason he settled on watercolours.

Having become disillusioned with Saltillo, Hopper abandoned the place, returning however for a final visit in 1951, although apparently not producing any new work.


Saltillo Rooftops: a view from the hotel roof, apparently available now as an iphone cover.

Saltillo Rooftops: a view from the hotel roof, available now as an iphone cover (!).


Saltillo: El Palacio

Saltillo: El Palacio


Church of San Esteban

Church of San Esteban


Saltillo Mansion

Saltillo Mansion









5 Comments on “Edward Hopper in Saltillo

  1. I was an exchange student in Saltillo in 1975…I lived with the Sainz family..the hotel was still in operation and I went there often to eat ..swim ..just hang out with other Americans..it was a magical place..the common areas were gorgeous..beautiful ornate staircases..the restaurant had a tropical rain forest feeling..the pool was a well maintained oasis ..as you may already have guessed,I was totally enamored …


    • @Kathy Graul, I studied in Saltillo during the summer of 1970, so I understand completely! I lived with a family on Ramos Arizpe and walked by the hotel nearly every day on the way to my classes. The year you were there, in 1975, I visited Saltillo and ‘my family’ with my husband, and we stayed at Hotel Arizpe Sainz. What incredibly wonderful memories!


  2. When he arrived Saltillo, the couple stayed in the Guajardo House. The roof where he painted the white mansion and the Palacio with the view from the side of the Methodist Church. The next trip they moved to the hotel and they stayed in the roof, where the governor Moreira has his office when he was secretary of education. They have access to the roof from there. They painted El Palacio,the Hotel Hidalgo, Hotel Coahuila, San Esteban and other views. Some smokestacks are still there.


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