Across Morelos Street from the cathedral lies the Jardín Borda (Borda Gardens). José de la Borda, the Taxco silver magnate, ordered a sumptuous vacation house built here in the late 1700s. When he died in 1778, his son Manuel inherited the land and transformed it into a botanical garden. The large enclosed garden next to the house was a huge private park, laid out in Andalusian style, with kiosks and an artificial pond. Maximilian took it over as his private summerhouse in 1865. He and Empress Carlota entertained lavishly in the gardens and held concerts by the lake.
The gardens were completely restored and reopened in 1987 as the Jardín Borda Centro de Artes. In the gateway buildings, several galleries hold changing exhibits and large paintings showing scenes from the life of Maximilian and from the history of the Borda Gardens. One portrays the initial meeting between Maximilian and La India Bonita, a local maiden who became his lover.
On your stroll through the gardens, you'll see the little artificial lake on which Austrian, French, and Mexican nobility rowed small boats in the moonlight; rowboats are available to rent. The lake is artfully adapted as an outdoor theater (see website for performance information), with seats for the audience on one side and the stage on the other. Music concerts are often held on Sunday evenings. A cafe serves refreshments and light meals, and a weekend market inside the jardín sells arts and crafts.