The name San Miguel refers to the founder of the city, Father Juan de San Miguel. The name was changed in 1826 to San Miguel de Allende in order to honor the birthplace of Ignacio Allende the hero of the Revolution. In September of 1810 the insurgent army were at that time located just a few miles to the north in Dolores (later Dolores Hidalgo). They marched south to San Miguel which became the first city to be liberated from Spanish rule. This army first stopped at the religious sanctuary in Atotonilco just north of San Miguel where a banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe was utilized as the new flag of the revolutionaries.
The main attraction of the town is its well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. By the mid 16th century, silver had been discovered in Zacatecas and a major road between this area and Mexico City passed through San Miguel. By the mid 18th century the city reached its height, when most of its large mansions, palaces and religious buildings were constructed. Most still remain.
However, by the beginning of the 20th century San Miguel was in danger of becoming a ghost town. It’s fortunes had gone in decline and it’s Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures were falling into ruin and disrepair.
It was “discovered” after the war by foreign artists who moved in and began art and cultural institutes such as the Instituto Allende and the Escuela de Bellas Artes. This gave the town a reputation, attracting artists.
The town has attracted since a significant amount of foreign retirees, artists, writers and tourists, which is shifting the area’s economy from agriculture and industry to a tourism based economy. The town is an international centre now attracting tourists from all over the world.
Above– Allende himself presides over the main Plaza bearing his name.
Above- The altar of the Parrochia church.
Below- a glimpse in passing of what was once a private chapel of a grand house. Now it is The Instituto Allende which is an art center .
Below-The streets around the Plaza are now traffic free so sitting at a cafe is a good way to people watch.
Below -This is what a Starbucks looks like in San Miguel.
Below a nice place to sit outside the bright yellow Belles Artes.
Below -Classic floor tiles abound in these old buildings many of which are now stores and restaurants.
Above a chair in a little lunch place and below a Tree Of Life in a gallery.
Below-Looking into doorways at intriguing places to eat or drink.
Below-Even the sidewalks are worth looking at. These stones are all worn smooth by years of shoes.
Above-the only beggars one sees in Mexico (and they are very passive) are the old ladies without a husband and maybe without family.
Below a reclamation shop with bits of the past ready for the new houses.
The photo below taken twenty years ago of a water fountain has since been “tidied’up and not nearly as interesting to look at. In fact many ruins from then are now nice town houses.
Below a fountain within a courtyard.
Above and below- A Mariachi band on a Saturday afternoon serenades outside the Parrochia
Above-the ubiquitous Frida printed on fabric.
Above and Below-Dont ask. I dont know what this is about !
I found these Revolutionaries dead or sleeping in a hallway.
Below– The view from the terrace of the place we we stayed at.
Below– Some things never change in Mexico. A parting shot as we were driving away.