Travelers who have visited Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende rave about its enchanting atmosphere Travel + Leisure recently published a very thorough and informative article about San Miguel de Allende. The city’s stunning architecture consisting of cobblestone streets and multicolored Spanish-colonial buildings is considered to be so unique that the city has been labeled as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Some believe that the city has a special, enthralling effect on Americans ever since the art institute Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes welcomed Chicago’s Stirling Dickinson as the director. Under Dickinson’s direction, the city was transformed into an international arts colony. Following World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed veterans to travel to San Miguel to study. Consequently, descriptions of the city reached the United States, inspiring other Americans to add a visit to San Miguel on their bucket lists.
While art remains a crucial element of San Miguel, the emergence of the restaurants Moxi and Áperi have aided in the city’s transition to a gastronomic destination as well. At Moxi, diners experience a taste of traditional Mexican cuisine with some international influence, while Áperi offers “food for the five senses” that is inspired by ingredients from the region.
A key stop in San Miguel is the Church of Immaculate Conception, which is locally referred to as “Las Monjas” (the Nuns). When it was first built, it was intended to serve as a housing complex. Today, it functions as a convent for the sisters belonging to the order of the Immaculate Conception Church. Another crucial cultural stop is the Sanctuary of Atotonilco’s “Sistine Chapel of Mexico,” where visitors can view walls covered in breathtaking 18th century religious murals. For a more casual activity, visitors can travel to one of the many street markets to buy various handmade crafts. One of the most popular markets is the El Tianguis de los Martes, where shoppers can find baskets, pottery, clothing, and other keepsakes.
Naturally, luxury hotels have begun to open in the city as well. One of the most lavish of these hotels is the Casa de Sierra Nevada, which is made up of a nest of colonial-style mansions – one of which is the former home of the archbishop of San Miguel. Each mansion consists of about six rooms that each connect to a private courtyard, and the rooms are adorned with fireplaces, copper tubs, textiles, and wood flooring. After years of mainly accommodating backpackers and the avant-garde, some have expressed concerns about such elegant additions changing the city into a solely tourist town. However, others find the performers and vendors lining the streets to be festive and endearing.
The preservation of the Spanish-colonial architecture that serves as a trademark of San Miguel can be credited to the city’s place in history. When San Miguel was ruled by Spain, its population was larger than that of New York City. Following the Mexican War of Independence the population began to decrease, and by the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, even more dwellers left the city. Without the wear and tear brought on by high population, San Miguel was able to remain in almost pristine condition throughout the years.
Current dwellers of San Miguel revel in the city’s distinctiveness. They say that the city holds all of the positive elements of Mexico, such as food, culture, and climate, but none of the negative elements. Many are confident that San Miguel is one of the safest cities in all of Mexico. In regard to San Miguel, Victor Martinez, a sous-chef at Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the hotel the Rosewood, says, “It’s an organized city – not like other Mexican cities.”
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