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San Miguel de Allende, GuanajuatoFast Facts
Location: Guanajuato, Mexico
Significance: Colonial City
Attraction Type: Architecture, Cobblestone streets, Art Festivals, Events
How to Reach: You can fly to either Aeropuerto del Bajio (BJX) which is 170 km from the city, or the newly opened Aeropuerto Internacional de Queretaro, which is 70 km away. Many prefer to travel from Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City. It is a four hours journey from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. Pick up services and car rentals are available from the airports. Bus services connect the city to all major Mexican cities.
Nearest Airport: Aeropuerto Internacional de Queretaro (QRO)
San Miguel de Allende in the Guanajuato province of Mexico owes its reputation as much to the members of the wealthy Mexicans who have settled here as the large number of American expatriates who have settled here over the ages. The great colonial architecture, marvelously cobbled streets and its vibrant artist community makes it one of the greatest attractions in the country.
History of San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel is not as old as some of the old Mayan towns in Mexico, and was founded as late as in the 16th century. Franciscan monk Fray Juan de San Miguel founded the city in 1542. The city played a very important role in the nation’s war of independence against Spain. However, population steadily declined after the 18th century, and by 1900 it was all but a ghost town. It was much due to the enterprise and efforts of the children and family members of Mariano Excobedo, who reached here after persecution during the Cristero uprising that the city gained new life. Their house started to be used as schools by the late 19th century. In the early part of the 20th century, San Miguel rose in quite a surprising way. Peruvian artist Felipe Cossio del Pomar reached here, established an art school named the Excuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes, appointed American artist and writer Stirling Dickinson as the Arts director and soon his influence started to show in different parts of San Miguel.
By 1950s, the city came to be adorned with colonial buildings of great beauty. As American veterans from the World War II started to arrive, the city got a new life. The Ex GIs breathed a new vibrancy in this old medieval city that already had a very enthusiastic artistic community.
Presently, San Miguel is one of the leading tourist spots in Mexico. It is also one of the favorite accommodation destinations for wealthy Mexicans and American expats. Both colonial architectures and interesting events count as attractions of San Miguel. Some of the biggest attractions are:
Expresion en Corto International Film Festival: Mexico’s largest competitive film festival is also one of Latin America’s biggest film festivals. Over 400 films are presented in over 14 venues. One of the venues is the city’s graveyard, one of the most controversial points of contention among city dwellers.
Cobblestone Streets and colonial architecture: The cobblestone streets are one of the greatest attractions of San Migeul. It is a delight to walk down these beautiful streets. There are number of great colonial architectures as well. Some of the most popular ones are Jardin previously known as the ‘plaza parroquial, the ‘Santa Excuela de Cristo’, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel and the Casa de Allende.
Festivals and Celebrations: One of the greatest reasons why so many tourists arrive at San Miguel de Allende all the year round is its numerous events and festivals. The festivals and events of San Miguel have both colonial as well as traditional Aztec and Indian origins. Every month, there are at least four to five events that are varied in their nature — there are traditional pagan festivals that celebrate different seasons as well as birthdays of national heroes. Even the traditional Christian festivals are given a unique turn. It does not matter when you arrive in San Miguel, you are bound to experience a festival or two on your arrival.
Artists Community: The relationship between art and San Miguel has been a long and fruitful one. Artists continue to stay in this old colonial city in great numbers. There are many theater personalities and musicians too. You can attend the exhibitions held in the various art galleries located throughout the city. You can also participate in the art courses and workshops held almost every weekend.
Accommodation in San Miguel de Allende
Accommodation in San Miguel varies from traditional hotels and inns to rental apartments and beds and breakfasts. Casa Quetzal, Hotel Casa Sierra Nevada, Hotel Casa Linda and Casa Rosada are some of the popular luxury hotels in the city. Travelers opting for beds and breakfasts can check out Casa de la Cuesta, Villa Scorpio al Puente B&B, Casa Granada and Casa Calderoni.