San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato: A colonial city in Mexico’s central highlands, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals. The town’s cultural, foreign and cosmopolitan nature has attracted a significant amount of foreign retirees, artists, writers and tourists. Ranked by magazines such as Time and Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler as one of its preferred places to live and visit.
To get there directly from many U.S. or Canadian cities, you might have to book a connecting flight to Houston or Mexico City, but the magic and bohemian quality of the city will capture your senses, and here are 7 reasons why to GO!
1.- HISTORY : Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
San Miguel de Allende is named after General Ignacio Allende, a prominent figure in Mexico’s War of Independence. The city’s rich history dates back to 1542 when it played an important role as a hub in the silver trade. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s, the town has attracted a significant amount of foreign retirees, artists, writers and tourists, that keep going back and establishing in the city.
2.- ARCHITECTURE: The main attraction of the town is its well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The town’s apogee came during the transition period between Baroque and Neoclassical architecture and many of the mansions and churches have both influences. Well know for its colorful houses, courtyards and doors. There are several publications about it. Like: “The Doors of San Miguel” by Robert de Gast and “Colors of San Miguel de Allende” by Camie Sands and Lander Rodriguez.
3.- ART & CRAFTS and ECLECTIC SHOPPING : San Miguel de Allende had a reputation as a haven for visual artists. Since the 1950s, when Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros worked there, it has attracted professional and amateur painters, sculptors and print makers to the classes and workshops frequently held. In addition to two major art institutions (Instituto Allende and Bellas Artes), artists and art venues can be seen in various parts of the town. One notable art gallery is the Galería Manuel Chacon, which carries contemporary art. Another important market is the Mercado de Artesanias, which sells a wide variety of items such as those made from wool, brass, paper mache and blown glass. and more.
4.- FOOD: San Miguel de Allende has always been a great destination for food. There’s cuisine both high and low, and everything in between: South American, Asian, European, fusion. San Miguel de Allende’s restaurant scene reached global acclaim when celebrity chef Enrique Olvera opened Moxi in 2012. Olvera is Mexico’s most famous chef, his flagship restaurant in Mexico City is called Pujol and is Michelin awarded. His arrival in San Miguel confirmed colonial town’s reputation as having one of the best restaurant scenes in all of Mexico. My Favorites Places to go are :
El Muro: I Fall In Love with this restaurant in 2009 on my first trip to San Miguel de Allende; Luna Roof Top; Moxi With Checf Enrique Olvera and Posada Carmina Hotel Courtyard.
5.- PEOPLE, FESTIVALS & ACTIVITIES: With a temperate climate, vibrant art scene, and moderate cost-of-living, San Miguel de Allende is not only rich in Mexican culture but also attracts many foreign retirees, artists and writers, predominantly from the U.S. and Canada. A melting pot of culture and people from everywhere around the world. Many of the festivals here are purely Mexican, combining social activity with religious expression. Throughout the year there are pilgrimages, all-night vigils, ringing church bells, processions and fireworks. The largest celebration of the year is that of the town’s patron saint, the Archangel Michael. The angel’s feast day is 29 September, but festivities take place for an entire week.
.- Holy Week begins with a exhibition of altars dedicated to the Virgin of Sorrows and end with the Procession of Silence.
.- SMART is a multi-media cultural festival, held annually in May, that combines exhibits by Mexican artists with a variety of culinary and social
events at local hotels, including the festival founder Hotel Matilda, Dos Casas Hotel and L’Otel.