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San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

    
 
 
 
What makes it unique? San Miguel de Allende is a colonial center for the arts and a wonderful city full of tree-shaded plazas and unusual neo-Gothic churches that have now been designated historical monuments. Visitors from all over the world head to this charming town for its beauty, climate and colorful fiestas. Its reputation as a center for the arts also attracts students of all ages interested in studying art, painting, weaving, sculpting, photography and Spanish.

San Miguel de Allende is located four hours northwest of Mexico City – in the country’s colonial highlands – and was named after Ignacio Allende, a leader in Mexico’s War for Independence. The city’s main plaza is where most of its colonial masterpieces are located, including its many colonial mansions that house charming boutiques, patio restaurants and fine shops.

Historical Sites The best way to explore San Miguel de Allende´s wealth of historical sites is on foot. The parish church, La Parroquia, is the city’s most important structure and what truly sets it apart from its neighbors. According to local legends, the cathedral’s creator, Ceferino Gutiérrez, was inspired by a European postcard and decided to build a Mexican-Indian version of a Gothic cathedral, which resulted in the pink-spire building.

The Instituto Allende is another historical landmark, founded in 1951 on the grounds of a formerly abandoned hacienda. Today, it is one of Latin America’s largest schools of fine arts for English-speaking students, offering everything from fine arts to intercultural business communication.

Culture Abounds For additional cultural activities, visitors can head to the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez, which offers a variety of events throughout the year, including art exhibits, theater productions, dance performances and concerts. The center is housed in a magnificent former convent built in the mid 18th century and also serves as an arts school offering painting, ceramics, stained glass, sculpture, weaving, theater and dance lessons. Another historical sight worth visiting is the Academia Hispano Americana, founded in 1959 and housed in an 18th-century mansion declared a national monument.

Cuisine and Handicrafts Rumor has it that no other town in Mexico the size of San Miguel de Allende offers such a wide selection of top-quality restaurants. The small inns offer award-winning cuisine at places like Casa de Sierra Nevada, Villa Jacaranda and La Puertecita, while restaurants around town offer an ample selection of flavors and fares. Also unparalleled are San Miguel’s handicraft offerings, with everything from furniture to antiques to the city’s characteristic scored tin articles available along the streets leading into the central square.

San Miguel de Allende´s unspoiled provincial feel combined with its level of cultural activity make it one of Mexico’s truly enchanting travel destinations.