Located 60 kilometers north of Queretaro, the colonial gem of San Miguel de Allende, population 80,000, is situated on a hillside facing the Laja River and the distant Guanajuato Mountains. Declared a national monument in 1926, San Miguel is a picturesque city of arched colonial mansions, flower-filled patios, and winding, terraced cobblestone streets. It is particularly beautiful in March, when flowering jacaranda trees are in bloom.
The city boasts a thriving cultural and entertainment scene. Many events (plays, lectures, art classes) are in English. The renowned San Miguel Music Festival (featuring Mexican and international artists) happens each December. A city with six patron saints and dozens of churches, San Miguel hosts a full calendar of religious festivals throughout the year. The town's biggest bash is San Miguel Arcángel, a celebration honoring the town's chief patron saint. The event includes a running of bulls through city streets, traditional dancers, and lots of merriment. It is held each September 29th.
Roof top views and gardens of this colonial city
|It is Mexico's most celebrated artists' community, and has been luring artistically-inclined Mexicans and foreigners (about 3,500 Americans and Canadians) for decades. Instituto Allende, founded in 1951, is an intellectual center and arts academy of renown. There are also many other institutes focusing on arts, literature, and language. Despite this Anglo invasion, San Miguel is very Mexican village.
One of the best city views is from the town's Mirador, located on a hill to the southeast of the city center. At the foot of the hill is El Chorro, which spouts a natural spring where the city's women come to do laundry. Further along is Parque Juárez, a shady green belt with ponds, fountains, and benches.
La Parroquia on the main plaza
|Two features distinguish San Miguel from the state's other colonial city attraction, Guanajuato. For shopping, the city boasts some of Mexico's best craft shops and fine art boutiques. Variety of merchandise is exceptional, as is the workmanship. Secondly, its dining scene is top notch. Nouvelle Mexican cuisine, plus a diverse assortment of international dining options have given San Miguel a reputation for having the best "small town" dining in Mexico.
Most of San Miguel's sightseeing highlights are clustered around the compact downtown area. This is a wonderful city for aimless wandering along its narrow cobbled lanes. El Jardin, the city's main plaza (zocalo) is a great starting spot. And don't miss the city's landmark, La Parroquia, the pink, gothic church on the main plaza.
If you are looking for an authentic Mexican town with international flair, centuries old history, and a relaxing almost peaceful feeling, San Miguel de Allende is the vacation (or retirement spot) for you.