The colonial center of San Miguel de Allende is one of the most beautiful in all of Mexico. The cobblestone streets and grand plazas are surrounded by colourful architecture. There are many incredible baroque buildings from the city’s golden era, including the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, an incredible church that dominates the skyline. San Miguel de Allende and the nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco together are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been an important destination since it’s founding in the 16th century.
San Miguel de Allende is one of the most beautiful places we visited on our most recent trip. It is easy to see why it has become one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Central Mexico. Since the 1950s, it has attracted many foreign artists and expats who have brought the city back to life. The city is named after two historical figures; Juan de San Miguel and Ignacio Allende. The first was, San Miguel, who arrived in the 16th century. This monk set up the first church and dedicated the town to Archangel Michael. Allende was one of the great heroes of the Mexican War for Independence, who died as a Martyr during the conflicts. San Miguel was his birthplace.
The original settlement built by Juan de San Miguel wasn’t destined to last, but the city was re-established in 1555 just over a kilometer to the east where there were two springs that would help the city sustain itself. San Miguel de Allende was located along one of the major trading routes between the silver mines of central Mexico and Mexico City. The silver mines in Zacatecas and Guanajuato would share much of their riches with San Miguel. Many of the great buildings found in the city were built in the mid 18th century, when the city was at its cultural peak.
Another important location nearby is the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, which was built in the 17th century. It is sometimes known as Mexico’s Sistine Chapel, as there are many incredible murals painted by Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre on the ceiling of the cathedral. It has become a place of pilgrimage and there are thousands that visit every week. Alongside the historic center of San Miguel, this is one of Mexico’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
San Miguel de Allende is located on the eastern side of Guanajuato State, and is a short trip away from the capital city. Don’t miss the view from El Mirador, which looks down at the beautiful city below. After viewing the city from above, head down to the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and the surrounding plazas of the central town. One of our favourite attractions – the Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Gardens – was deserving of it’s own article later this week.
We enjoyed almost every aspect of our trip through Central Mexico. We found traveling between destinations in Central Mexico to be quite easy and fairly cheap. The buses here are quite nice and are well suited for long journeys. We made our next stop in Querétaro, but it is only about a 4-5 hour bus from Mexico City. We’re glad we stopped here for a few days to explore the area. We’ve already started making plans to go back.