San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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San Miguel de Allende is located in the state of Guanajuato, about 37 miles from Queretaro, 58 miles from Guanajuato City and 25 miles from Dolores Hidalgo. In a semi-desert area, the hot climate dominates in the region and it is ideal for a stroll through the streets or for a coffee on the colonial patio of some of the downtown restaurants.

San Miguel de Allende is famous for its intense artistic and cultural life, as well as its architecture, much of which was inherited from pre-Hispanic culture. There are amazing landscapes of mountains, gullies, valleys and footpaths, which will leave you fascinated.

In this special area of the Mexican Republic, you will be surprised by the variety of music, fashion and movie festivals as well religious festivities. Its gastronomy is rich in flavors and is made based on fusion cuisine recipes, combining dishes from nearby cities. Traditional Mexican cuisine is, however, always at the base and you can try these dishes in small cafes or in restored colonial buildings.

Summing it all up, San Miguel de Allende is a magical town that is rich in culture and traditions, a city where many foreigners have called "home". It is a place that is waiting to receive you with its hospitality and an endless number of attractions. Come and see for yourself!

San Miguel de Allende History

The town was founded in 1542 by the Franciscan monk Fray Juan de San Miguel. It was an important stopover on the Antiguo Camino Real, part of the silver route from Zacatecas. The town featured prominently in the Mexican War of Independence. General Ignacio Allende, one of San Miguel's native sons, was a leading player in the war against Spain for independence. Allende, captured in battle and beheaded, is a national hero. San Miguel el Grande renamed itself "San Miguel de Allende" in 1826 in honor of his actions.

As the mineral wealth waned, the many caravans ceased, and by 1900, San Miguel de Allende was in danger of dying out. Having been declared a national monument in 1926 (no neon signs, no new style buildings), the old Centro district still has the colonial style elegance of its wealthy past.

In the 50's San Miguel became a destination known for both its beauty and for its natural hot springs. The world famous Mexican comedian, Cantinflas frequented San Miguel de Allende in the 50's and 60's, bringing with him an entourage of film stars, singers and hangers-on. It was after World War II that San Miguel began to revive as a tourist attraction, as many GI's discovered that their education grants stretched further in Mexico at the US accredited art school, the Instituto Allende, founded in 1950.

San Miguel Art and Traditions

The traditions occupy an important place in San Miguel de Allende. A good part of the year is devoted to filling the streets with colorful celebrations which include music, dance, parades and even fireworks.

Some of the more popular festivities are the Celtic Week Parade and St. Patrick's Day, which are celebrated before the arrival of spring. The saint day of San Antonio de Padua is on June 13, while the Chamber Music Festival brings famous musicians from all over world.For those bullfight aficionados, there is the traditional "SanMiguelada", which is San Miguel's own running of the bulls, inspired by Pamplona.

San Miguel de Allende celebrates its saint day on September 29. On this day, the city is decorated with flags and garlands of spectacular color to commemorate the most important festivity of the year.
You can also obtain beautifully elaborated handicrafts made of wood, tin, brass, paper mache and blown glass. These, along with antiques, are very sought-after items for their design, beauty and artistic craft.

San Miguel Restaurants & Dining

In San Miguel de Allende, the cuisine is extremely varied and rich. It incorporates the cuisine of its neighboring states like Queretaro, Jalisco, Michoacan and San Luis Potosi. Given its geographic situation, this zone is ideal for organic vegetable cultivation (artichokes, asparagus and broccoli) and it is well-known for its dairy production.

Very traditional in these lands is the "Fiambre estilo San Miguel" (San Miguel style cold cuts). It consists of beef, chicken, pork, fruits, vegetables, oil and vinegar. The "Enchiladas Mineras" (Miner's Enchiladas) is another regional dish that cannot be missed.

For dessert, nothing is better than some delicious "tumbagones", a traditional fried sweet that is normally served with coffee. There are also strawberries with cream from nearby Irapuato as well as cajeta (Mexican Butterscotch) from Celaya, charamuscas (a hard, caramel candy that is yellow in color and is sold in a variety of forms; in San Miguel de Allende, it is usually sold as mummy figurines), piloncillos quemados (caramelized brown sugar sweets), jamoncillo (sweet made of finely ground seeds such as pumpkin, pine nuts and peanuts mixed with milk and sugar), alegrias (sweetened and popped amaranth seeds) and cocadas (a grated coconut sweet, made with egg, sugar, milk and sometimes with pineapple).

San Miguel Nightlife

The nights of San Miguel de Allende are very diverse and in this city, you can find bars, restaurants and clubs for all ages and preferences. There is also the option of taking a nighttime walk through its bohemian streets where you can find for yourself, the essence of this magical colonial town.

In San Miguel de Allende, it is common to celebrate national heroes and patron saints, squeezing in a little fun on the side. A good example of this is the traditional "callejoneadas" (get-togethers in the streets that involve singing and dancing), typical to the state of Guanajuato. The Angela Peralta Theater is a great opportunity to enjoy great concerts and the most varied music festivals.

San Miguel Shopping

San Miguel de Allende is known for its beautiful pieces of art made of brass, paper mache, wool, blown glass, carved rock and ceramic. San Miguel is often compared to a large market where you can find valuable pieces of art, lovely furniture, mirrors, candelabras, wrought iron items, wax figurines from Salamanca, wall tiling from Guanajuato and Talavera Ceramic from Dolores Hidalgo.

Handicrafts Market:  In this traditional handicrafts market, you can find a large variety of typical regional products for souvenirs, everything from the beautiful pieces of silver, Talavera ceramic decorations, paper mache and wrought iron items. The market is located in the downtown area, with several access points, off Loreto Street, the famous clock or Hidalgo Street.

Art Galleries:  In San Miguel de Allende, there are a number of art galleries where artists exhibit and sell their work, making this a unique opportunity to get an original high quality piece of art from Mexican artists.

San Miguel de Allende Attractions

A walk through San Miguel de Allende is an attraction in itself, from the beautiful colonial mansions and the impressive temples to the fascinating Historic Center where you'll find a number of details that will capture your attention.

Apart from its intense architecture, visit the museums, theaters, cultural centers, art galleries and the bullring. San Miguel de Allende is also home to many natural attractions such as thermal springs, a botanic garden and beautiful fresh water springs.

For adventure, are more than 680 miles of roads that you can cover by foot, mountain bike, horseback or ATV. In San Miguel de Allende, there is something for everyone, including a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and a number of spas for the ultimate relaxing experience.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel
The original construction of the Parrish of San Miguel de Archangel dates back to the 17th century but the facade itself was completely rebuilt in 1880 by Zeferino Gutierrez, who was inspired by the cathedrals of Europe. This created an impressive neo-gothic style, making this Parish one of the most photographed cathedrals in all of Mexico.

El Jardin
In the heart of San Miguel de Allende, discover beautiful gardens with wrought iron benches and a traditional kiosk. It is ideal for a nice chat in the shade of the laurel trees or even for a little chat via internet (wireless service available here) on your laptop.
Casa Mayorazgo de la Canal
In this neoclassic style mansion lived a well-to-do family called the De La Canal. The main attraction of this house is the front door, which was beautifully carved and symbolized the status of those who lived there. It now houses a bank branch.
Templo de la Concepcion
The locals call it "Las Monjas" (the Nuns) due to the fact that it belonged to the Order of the Immaculate Conception. The church was built between 1755 and 1842. In 1891, Zeferino Gutierrez built a cupola that was inspired by the Church of Saint-Louis des Invalides in Paris.
Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud
This temple dates back to the 18th century and was formerly a chapel for the School of San Francisco de Sales. From the porch, contemplate the carved conch shell, with a single eye inside a triangle, a symbol of the omnipresence of God and not, as popularly believed, to be due to the church's supposed powers of curing eye ailments.
Templo de San Francisco
The construction of this church took 20 years to complete, reflected in the different architectural styles that adorn the facade, which is of Spanish Baroque influence. The Neoclassic bell tower, however, was built in 1799.
Museo Casa de Allende
Ignacio Allende was born here and it has now become a museum, completely dedicated to this important figure in the history of Mexican Independence. The Baroque-style building dates back to the 18th century and was detailed with carved stone and wrought iron like the houses of the rich Spanish nobility.
Cultural Center "El Nigromante"
In San Miguel, it is only known as "Bellas Artes" (the Fine Arts) even the full name is the National Institute of Fine Arts. This center offers sketching, painting, sculpture, music and dance and is also known for the incomplete murals of Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. It houses a museum, auditorium, two art galleries and a cafe.
Biblioteca Publica
This is considered the second largest library in Mexico with publications and texts in English. This lovely building has a quaint interior patio, a reading room, an auditorium and a computer room with internet access.
Santuario de Atotonilco
This church is located in the town of Atotonilco, just 8 kilometers from San Miguel de Allende. The church was founded by the Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro and has been a place of worship and pilgrimage since its construction in 1740. This church was also featured in the Mexican War of Independence, because the priest Miguel Hidalgo took the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe from the altar and carried it into battle.
Thermal Springs
The area features delicious thermal and alkaline water springs such as Cieneguita, Montecillo, Atotonilco, Taboada and the Cortijo. There are sulfurous waters of temperatures up to 102 degrees.
Plaza de Toros
San Miguel de Allende features the Plaza de Toros Oriente, where you can admire great matadors in their traditional bullfighting regalia in a showdown between man and beast. The plaza was built in 1956 and can hold up to 3,000 spectators.
El Charco del Ingenio
The task of establishing a botanical garden and nature conservation area in San Miguel de Allende was started in 1989 by Cante A.C., a Mexican nonprofit organization with diverse ecological and cultural interests. The impressive canyon of El Charco del Ingenio, both close yet isolated from the town, appeared as the ideal place for the proposed project - an area of great natural beauty, of ecological, scenic and historical value.
One of the traditional "fiestas" of San Miguel de Allende is the Sanmiguelada, (a term which comes from the famous Spanish party "Pamplona"). Every September since 1973, on the third Saturday an event is organized where more than 20,000 brave people from all over the country gather in the downtown to confront a dozen bulls.
Teatro Angela Peralta
This stunning theater was inaugurated in 1873 with a performance by the world famous Mexican opera singer, Angela Peralta. The theater, although originally designed as an opera house, is actually an elegant meeting point for national and international artists who come to participate in renowned events, such as the International Guitar Festival, the Jazz Festival and the Festival of Chamber Music.
Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
Constructed in 1712, this stunning church is built on the site of an old chapel. It is a very interesting building because of its incredibly ornate decor that includes both golden walls and altars.
Parque Benito Juarez
This beautiful park was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and has a very French feel to it, featuring ponds, fountains, bridges, wrought iron benches and wide pathways. There is also a playground and picnic area. It's a very leafy, green park, home to a multitude of trees from the region, including mulberry, custard apple and walnut.
Instituto Allende
The De la Canal family built this home in the 17th century as their retreat from the city. This old mansion features beautiful patios, a modern art gallery, a restaurant, and a private chapel that exhibits colonial frescoes. In 1951 the whole building was converted into an art institute and now offers courses in silverwork, ceramics and Spanish.

Getting to San Miguel

By Plane: 

San Miguel de Allende has two nearby international airports. The Aeropuerto del Bajio (airport code: BJX) is located 170 km (about 110 miles) from San Miguel, between the cities of Leon and Guanajuato.

The recently opened Aeropuerto Internacional de Queretaro (airport code: QRO) is about 70 km (40 miles) from San Miguel de Allende.

A third option is the Benito Juarez Airport (airport code: MEX) in Mexico City, which is about 4 hours from San Miguel de Allende. The Mexico City airport has a larger choice of flights and is served by a broad range international airlines from across the world.

By Bus: 

San Miguel de Allende's Central de Autobuses, (the bus station) is 1 1/2 miles west of town. Bus between San Miguel and Mexico City, Queretaro, Guanajuato and Leon depart and arrive several times per day. Bus lines servicing San Miguel de Allende include Primera Plus, ETN, Flecha Amarilla and Herradura de Plata.

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