MIGUEL DE ALLENDE
city was founded by the Spanish, more precisely by father Juan
de San Miguel in 1542, on a previous destroyed Chichimeque site.
It was first named after the Saint Patron and then became San
Miguel el Grande in order to be distinct of all the less important
San Miguels spread out all around Mexico. The
city was the market center for the surrounding haciendas. On every
of these plantations, which were measured in square kilometers
rather than hectares, at least one thousand families lived in
serf conditions. One of the resolutions taken by the Revolution
of 1810 was to separate these huge domains between the ones
who cultivated them. Most of the manors are now ruins, except
the ones that were restored by individuals or converted into hotels.
In 1826, the inhabitants added "de Allende" to the
name of their city to honor their native son, the famous guerillero
Ignacio de Allende. Born there in 1779, Allende was one of the
first by the side of Father Hidalgo to rebel against the Spanish
San Miguel de Allende is 170 miles (274 km) from Mexico
City, 60 miles(97 km) from Guanajuato,
38 miles (62 km) from Queretaro and 70 miles (113 km) from the International Airport of Bajío
(BJX) and 30 minutes from the highway 57, Queretaro-Monterrey.
The city of San Miguel de Allende,
located at an altitude of 6134 feet (1850 m),was declared a historic
monument by the Mexican government. It has about 160,000 inhabitants
(in 2008), with many Mexican and foreign artists as well as a
large community of retired Americans and Canadians.
The city succeeded in mainly preserving its colonial atmosphere.
The narrow and steep streets, with round cobblestones, the plazas
with thick trees, the old splendid private mansions of the noblesse,
as well as the baroque chapels and churches give the tone of this
urban landscape. Downtown San Miguel, the houses are remarkable.
According to the Spanish tradition, they look plain on the street
side. They reserve their luxury decoration for the inner patios.
The Mexicans live behind their walls, like the Moorish.
Visits of houses and gardens are organized every Sunday at noon
by the Public Library (2nd library in Mexico
according to the English volumes - corner Hidalgo and Insurgentes).
The benefit of the visits is transferred to local charities. The
recent constructions were cautiously planned in order to fit in
with the colonial character of the older buildings that were restored
with care and competence. These last decades, the Art Academies
attracted an international crowd and the city has become the new
home of their graduates.
Allow one day for visiting San Miguel de Allende
and another day for the surroundings and Dolorès.
Start the visit of the city strolling on Plaza Allende,
meeting place for every resident, older or newcomer, as well as
for the travelers. Framed with houses from the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, whose deep arches house restaurants and shops, it is
a busy place at any time of the day. At the south, your eye is caught
by the Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel (open
daily 7AM-8 PM), neo-gothic cathedral whose construction started
in the seventeenth century. Its façade was added in the nineteenth
century. It houses very austere indoor chapels. It is the work of
the plain contractor, Ceferino Guttiérez, who had never seen
a gothic cathedral and he had to inspire himself from post cards
representing gothic European cathedrals.
In San Rafael Church, just by, there is a statue of the Christ made
of corn and orchid pasta. It is said to have been created by the
Indians of Pátzcuaro
in the sixteenth century. By the side of the Parroquia, there is
the Museum Casa de Allende (open 10AM-4PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$39),
birthplace of Ignacio de Allende. This museum, with a memorable
baroque façade, is consecrated the Independence movement
and to Allende, its national hero. Don’t miss the patio whose
colonnades are especially beautiful. In front of the museum stands
the monument dedicated to Juan de San Miguel, Franciscan monk, founder
of the city. From upstairs, you’ll have a nice view of the
You can have a look at the wooden door, wonderfully carved, surmounted
with an eagle and a statue of the Virgen de Loreto of the Palacio
de los Condes de Canal which now houses a bank.
Go up the calle San Francisco, walk in front of the Municipal
Palace which houses the Municipal Tourism Office to reach the plazuela
San Francisco. On the left, the church of the Tercer Orden, built
by the Franciscans in the seventeenth century, is notable for the
sobriety of its architecture, without any dome or tower. In the
upper part of the façade, a niche houses the statue of Saint
Antoine of Padoue. It holds a nice art collection. On the north
side of the church, the cloister, framed with two level arches and
adorned with a central fountain, contains magnificent murals illustrating
On the opposite northern side, stands the San Francisco church,
built in the eighteenth century. Its splendid Churrigueresque facade
made of pink cantera, heavily adorned with elements representing
vegetal and human faces. It contrasts with the high neoclassic tower,
drawn by Eduardo Tresguerras. The nave connects to a pleasant flowered
cloister with a strong baroque influence.
Keep going on Avenue Juárez to reach Plaza Cívica
Allende, built in 1555. It is framed on the north side by two religious
buildings : the Oratorio of San Felipe Neri (open daily 7AM-8PM)
and the church of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (open
daily, 7 AM-8 PM).
The chapel has a nice baroque facade made of pink stone, lavishly
adorned with vegetal patterns. The columns demarcate niches and
their statues. The inside is interesting, with about thirty statues
of Saints. Through a nice gate with golden columns, you have access
to Santa Casa de Loreto church where stands the famous "camarin",
octagonal chapel which contains six exuberant baroque altars.
Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church, on the right
of the Oratorio, topped by a nice dome made of blue and yellow tiles,
was built in the eighteenth century. Its baroque facade is crowned
with a conch symbolizing the sky. The inside, except for some paintings,
Walk back to visit the School of Fine Arts (open 9AM-6PM, Mon-Sat
and 10AM-3PM, Sun; free admission). This ancient convent adjacent
to the church of the Concepción, houses nowadays
the Cultural center El Nigromante and the School of Fine Arts. It
is a nice architectural building surrounding an enchanting two-story
patio and supported by elegant columns. Here are set expositions
and cultural events. You can admire murals, including one, unfinished
and telling the story of the life of Allende, by David Siqueiros.
The church of the Concepción, built in the eighteenth
century had its dome finished late in the nineteenth century. The
inside is not really interesting.
End the visit of the city by the Allende Institute, less than one
mile from downtown (Ancha de San Antonio # 22),
(415) 152 0190 -
152 4538. This is a School of art and languages, set in an ancient
convent of Carmelites built in the eighteenth century. It is a pleasant
place for relaxing among the patios and flowered gardens. You can
have lunch there and admire the panoramic view of the city. Get
information on site for the expositions, conferences or classes
Even if the city doesn’t offer many interesting monuments,
it is a city not to be missed in order to taste its atmosphere.
Stroll on the main plaza surrounded by old houses of the eighteenth
century. Walk down the main street and look at the many patios and
balconies. There are many local celebrations, especially late September,
for San Miguel Day (city’s patron saint). You will be able
to enjoy local dances and flower offerings that could reach 33 feet
From downtown, walk south on calle Aldama, a nice typical street,
to reach Juárez Park, a beautiful park with more than 100
year old trees. Then, walk east to go to the "Chorro",
old public wash house where you still find groups washing their
clothes in the different red stone basins. If you have energy, go
up to the Mirador to enjoy a wonderful view of the city and the
surrounding landscapes (Piedras Chinas street and Salida a Querétaro
street). End the visit of the city in "Plaza del Toros"
(arena) following Huertas and Recreo streets. Admire, all
along the tour, the charming facades, the carved gates, the balconies
and the fountains. The area is behind a high wooden door.
Mercado de Artesanias or Crafts Market : San Miguel is
also a place to purchase regionally produced handicrafts in boutiques
downtown or in the ”Mercado de Artesanías"
(located at the north of Plaza Civica). There are a lot
of choices with reasonable prices (open daily 10:30AM-7M).
Nearby surroundings of San Miguel
The first one is the Botanical Garden El Charco del Ingenio
(about 3miles (5 km) north-east from downtown) : this magnificent
botanical garden of 100 ha with more than 1,00 species of cacti
and succulents is also a refuge of colonies of migrating bird (open
daily 8 AM-5 PM, admission fee : MXN$30). Take the bus from plaza
Civica to Gigante and walk less than one mile.
9 miles (15 km) from San Miguel, is the Parish of Atotonilco
dating from the eighteenth century, notable for its beautiful ceiling
and its walls completely covered with frescoes, as well as for its
rich history. It is here that Hidalgo seized the banner of the Virgin
of Guadalupe, emblem of their fight for independence. The parish,
open daily from 7 AM to 8 PM, is a baroque symbol of Spain but there
are also inside artistic elements of Indigenous influence as well
as murals by Miguel Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre, who spent at
least 30 years working there. Don’t miss the six lateral chapels.
It is a sacred pilgrim place, very prized, especially for the procession
of the Holy week (like in Dolorès Hidalgo), dedicated to
Jésus de Nazareth.
Take a bus from the Central de Autobuses every 30 minutes to go
there or to Dolorès Hidalgo, capital of the ceramic.
Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary
of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
Brief Description from the website of Unesco :
The fortified town, first established in the 16th century to protect
the Royal Route inland, reached its apogee in the 18th century when
many of its outstanding religious and civic buildings were built
in the style of the Mexican Baroque. Some of these buildings are
masterpieces of the style that evolved in the transition from Baroque
to neoclassical. Situated 14 km from the town, the Jesuit sanctuary,
also dating from the 18th century, is one of the finest examples
of Baroque art and architecture in the New
Spain. It consists of a large church, and several smaller chapels,
all decorated with oil paintings by Rodriguez Juárez and
mural paintings by Miguel Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre.
Because of its location, San Miguel de Allende acted as a melting
pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged cultural
influences while the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
constitutes an exceptional example of the exchange between European
and Latin American cultures. Its architecture and interior decoration
testify to the influence of Saint Ignacio de Loyola’s doctrine
Map of the city :
It is located at 25 miles (40 km) from San Miguel and 30 miles (48km)
From Atotonilco, take the highway 51 towards San Sebastián
and take Highway 110 for 3 miles (5 km) until reaching Dolorès
mágico"). It was once a village which has been
in the spotlight of history. In 1810, in Spain, King Charles had
to resign in favor of Ferdinand, but Napoléon I made Ferdinand
resign in favor of his brother Joseph. These changes brought confusion
the conspirators of Querétaro just wanted to free themselves
from the Spanish dependency. Here is when the Corregidora got involved.
Although locked in her house, she succeeded in warning Hidalgo and
his friends of the peril of their movement. Around midnight on September
15, Father Hidalgo, rang the church bell to enroll the volunteers
of Dolorès. The first rebel priest in Latin America, he started
a war that, with intermittences, lasted more than one century. Dolorès
(54,000 inhabitants) is, since, a national sanctuary. Every year,
there is a reenactment of the Cry for Freedom (El Grito)
in all of Mexico, and, as a ritual, the President
of the Republic comes to repeat the cry from the same balcony where
Hidalgo did it. So the city is always “polished”. It
has public monuments (included a Museum Casa de Hidalgo),
but none of them offers a specific interest.
The Museum Casa de Hidalgo (open 10AM-5:45PM, Tue-Sun,
MXN$29) is a nice colonial construction dating from 1779, where
Miguel Hidalgo lived from 1804 to 1810. It contains objects, furniture
and documents about the movement of Independence.
In the same small space, you will be able to visit the Parroquia
de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, the Parroquia
de la Asunción and the Templo de la Tercera Orden.
The Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolorès
is the very same place where Miguel Hidalgo called the Mexican people
to rebellion. The bell of Independence, which started the beginning
of the rebellion, is on one of the towers.
You can visit the Casa de Abasolo, Municipal Palace where
the insurgent Mariano Abasolo was born, in 1784. It was converted
to a City Hall in1906. You can also visit the Museum of Independence
(open 9 AM-5 PM, Fri-Wed), dedicated to Miguel Hidalgo and José
Alfredo Jiménez, compositor born in Dolorès.
Have a look at the facade of the Casa de las Visitas. It
has been the property of the government of the state since 1940.
The President of the Republic visits regularly to celebrate the
Grito de Dolores (war of Independence). The facade has
six arches surmounted with balconies.
Hidalgo is also the Capital of ceramics with original, diverse and
creative production. The main craft boutiques are at the entrance
to the city. Miguel Hidalgo is also the one who introduced in the
city the tradition of pottery and ceramic of talavera. There are
also fabrics of rustic furniture.
Stop at the market close to the streets Chiapas and Jalisco, two
blocks south from the Jardín.
Dolorès is also famous for the fabrication of the best ice-creams
in Mexico with delicious and unusual flavors !
Map of Dolorès :
On the road between Saint Miguel and Dolorès,
you have the possibility of bathing in one of the numerous hot springs
(the "balnearios"). They are open from 9 AM to
5 PM (MXN$80). Every bus driving from one city to the other can
stop there per your request.
The village "Mineral de Pozos", 24 miles (39 km) east
from Dolorès and 37 miles north-east (60km) from San Miguel,
nearly abandoned at the closing of the mines, houses several artists
and craftsmen seduced by its charm. There are now 2,500 inhabitants.
Close to the Jardín Principal are many galleries and workshops
where you can see artisans reproducing pre-Hispanic music instruments.
You will find drums, percussion, flute, etc...
surroundings of Guanajuato
Just outside the city, 3 miles (5km) towards Dolorès Hidalgo,
go to the silver mine Valenciana. You can only access to the site
because the mine is closed to visitors.
Take the bus from calle Alhóndiga, direction "Cristo
Rey" or "Valenciana".
Miners will be your guides to visit the neighboring mine, the Bocamina
San Cayetano, guided visit of 25 minutes between 10 AM and 6 PM
(MXN$25). These miners of chichimèque origin will explain
how exploited their ancestors were under the Spanish regimen. They
were treated almost like slaves !
Close to these mines, visit the templo de San Cayetano
de la Valenciana (open 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun) which was built by the
Count of Valenciana, owner of silver mines.
This church, built especially for the miners between 1765 and 1788,
has nice main and lateral facades made of pink cantera and presents
the typical aspects of the baroque.
The prosperity from the silver mines shows, inside, through the
Churrigueresque style and the meticulous decoration of the adjacent
cloister. The three churrigueresques gates of this church attract
many visitors. The throne is a jewel, with encrustations of precious
wood. And the baptismal font are among the more beautiful examples
of the eighteenth century.
Cata : About 3 miles (5km) further, on
the same road, this village is famous for its nice baroque church
dating from the seventeenth century. It presents a nice Churrigueresque
façade made of pink cantera and two imposing altar pieces.
The mine of Cata belonged to Don Alonso de Villaseca, the
man the richest in the whole New Spain. In 1610, he donated the
Christ which is still in the church and was named "Seigneur
A little more than 1 mile (2 km) east from Cata, you will enjoy
a nice panoramic view of Guanajuato from the Mina de San Juan de
Rayas. Behind the esplanade, stairs lead to the quiet hamlet of
Mellado, where you can visit the church of the Merced and the ruins
of the Convento del Carmen (Sunday 10AM-6PM, free admission).
Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera : It
is a nice colonial-style property built in late seventeenth century,
who was converted in official residence for the important people
and reconverted into a Museum. It displays paintings, furniture
and tapestries from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Walk
in the 17 wonderful gardens, well manicured in different styles
(French, Oriental, Mexican, English ...). Take the bus towards Marfil
and get off the bus at km 2.5. Open daily 9AM-6PM; MXN$22.
The ones who like religious tourism can go to the Cerro
del Cubilete, between Silao and Guanajuato. It is a volcanic
formation of 9940 feet high (2480 m) surmounted by a huge statue
of Christ the King. Guanajuato buses service this place every day.
The site welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.
Recreational Zone of Las Palomas : About 15 minutes
from Guanajuato on the highway towards Dolorès Hidalgo, is
the natural site of Las Palomas which offers outdoor activities
like camping, hiking, migrating bird watching and discovering of
fauna and flora of the Sierra de Guanajuato.
Valle de Santiago in the south of the state :
The tourism of adventure lovers can be interested in the seven old
craters of volcanoes called "hoyas". In some of them you
can try waterskiing or climbing and others offer unusual, moonlike
landscapes. One of them, the Hoya de Rincon Parangueo,
is accessible from a one thousand long tunnel (300 m).
Map of the city of Guanajuato :
Map of the state of Guanajuato :
History of the state and its capital :
It is located 69 miles (110 km) from Dolores and 33 miles (54 km)
in 1566, the city of León, with more than one million three
hundred thousand inhabitants is an important center of development
for the state. The production of leather articles built up its worldwide
fame. Every year, more than 25 million pairs of shoes are exported.
The city also has a wonderful historic downtown where you can admire
nice architectural monuments. Stroll in the walking zone which houses
the Municipal Palace, the plaza of Martyrs, the plaza of the Founders
with the Fountain aux Lions. Visit the House of Culture Diego Rivera
on the plaza of the Founders the church Expiatorio (gothic-style
church; visit early morning) and the cathedral-basilica dating from
the eighteenth century with a baroque facade. Many malls are founded
in the city. The city of León is worth a detour if you have
time and would like to make some important purchases. Log on to
their website for information on the Féria of January (20Jan-14Feb.2014):
concerts, fireworks, parades, dances (especially the Voladores)
Map of the city of Léon :
It is located 28 miles (46 km) from Guanajuato.
The quality of its agriculture dates back to the seventeenth century
because it provided the mining centers with fresh supplies and now
it grows many fruits and vegetable, especially strawberries which
gave it the nickname of World Capital of Strawberries. It occupies
an important place in the development agro-industrial and textile.
It owns a modern Conventions Center with a capacity of 1,800 people,
recreational spaces, two professional golf courses, the soccer stadium
Sergio León Chávez (used for the 1986 World Cup),
a bull ring and a ‘lienzo charro’ (seat of
the "charro" World Congress –kind of rodeo which
is the national sport).
Irapuato is the center of important events like Expo Fresas (strawberries),
agro-industrial Fair –beginning in April, every year, Expo
Agroalimentaria (farm-produce) and Expo Megapecuaria (farming cooperative)
as well as a large variety of sport events like the Nauticopa.
Map of the city of Irapuato :
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