San Miguel de Allende Tourist Attractions
How to get thereFrom Mexico City by bus about 4 hours; by car approximately 280km/174mi on the MEX 57D via Querétaro.The town of San Miguel de Allende nestles on a hill and extends down into a valley.
It is one of the few places in the country designated as a national monument and has thus been able to preserve almost entirely its character as a colonial town.Hidden behind often simple façades are some particularly attractive houses with patios and gardens. The charming townscape, the attractive surroundings and the pleasant climate have attracted many foreigners to San Miguel de Allende, either as visitors or as permament residents. The town has consequently become a centre of intellectual and artistic life, predominantly in the spheres of painting, sculpture, pottery, music, literature and drama.History During the pre-Columbian period there were several Tarascan and Chichimecan settlements in the area around San Miguel de Allende. Juan de San Miguel, the Franciscan friar who became famous in Michoacán for his beneficent work among the Indians, founded an Indian mission here in 1542. He named it after the saint whose name he bore and the San Miguel de los Chichimeca Indians who resided here. A little later Indians from Tlaxcala settled here, having to defend themselves against attacks by warlike Chichimecs. In 1555 the settlement became the provincial town and was renamed San Miguel el Grande. During the Colonial period rich owners of mines and land from Guanajuato and Zacatecas settled here. Some of their mansions and houses are among the town's finest.Ignacio de Allende, born here in 1779, took up the fight for Mexican independence in 1810 together with Juan Aldama and Father Miguel Hidalgo. In recognition of the deeds carried out by Allende, who was later executed by the Spanish, the town was given the epithet "de Allende" in 1862.During the past decades the town has developed into one of the country's important cultural centres, without losing much of its traditional charm.
La Concepción ( Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez)
By following Calle Canal westwards, past the Casa de Canal with its marvellously carved door, we come to the church and convent of La Concepción (Las Monjas). Building started on these in the mid-18th c. but was not completed until the end of the last century. Of note is the church's splendid twelve-sided cupola completed in 1891 and also the work of the architect Ceferino Gutiérrez. Inside the church are pictures attributed to the artists Miguel Cabrera and Juan Rodríguez Juárez. The convent possesses a beautiful inner courtyard lined with old trees and two-storeyed arcades. It now houses the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez. Diagonally opposite stands the Teatro Angela Peralta. It was founded as an opera house and enjoyed its heyday in 1873, when the "Mexican Nightingale", Angela Peralta, appeared here.In Calle Hernandez Macías, which runs south alongside the convent, are the former prison building and the headquarters of the Inquisition (Cuadrante 18) standing opposite one another.
Parroquia (de San Miguel Arcángel)
A symbol of the town is the Parroquia, the parish church situated in the attractive main square (El Jardin, Plaza de Allende). This unusual Neo-Gothic building, constructed in about 1880 on the site of an older more modest church, is the work of the Indian architect Ceferino Gutiérrez, who used as his models a number of European cathedrals.Inside on the left is the chapel of the Señor de la Conquista with the figure of the Cristo de la Conquista. This highly-revered 16th c. statue was made by Indians in Pátzcuaro following a traditional technique; it is constructed of a paste of maize stalks stuck together with a gum made from orchid tubers and coated with chalk (de cana). Fragments of Federico Cantu's murals can still be seen in the chapel; upon completion they were considered too radical by a priest who partially destroyed them. The remains of the former Mexican president, General Anastasio Bustamante (1770-1833), who died in San Miguel, are interred in the crypt. The Neo-Classical Camarín behind the main altar is the work of the versatile artist Tresguerras.
Church of San Rafael
The church of San Rafael (18th c.) adjoins the Parroquia on the right-hand corner. It contains simple sculptures.
A Baroque-style corner house, the birthplace of Ignacio de Allende, stands on the west side of the main square. It now houses a museum exhibiting archaeological and historical finds and examples of handicrafts.
Address: Calle Cuna de Allende 1, Mexico
Opening hours: 10am-4pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Mexican Constitution Day (Día de la Constititución) (Feb 5), Mexico - Benito Juárez Birthday (Mar 21), Mexico - Battle of Pueblo Day (May 5), Mexico National Day (Sep 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Mexican Revolution Day (Nov 20), Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Casa del Mayorazgo de Canal
The north-west corner of the Plaza on Calle Canal is occupied by the imposing Casa del Mayorazgo de Canal, which displays Baroque and Neo-Classical elements; it has an attractive inner courtyard.Handsome 18th c. colonial buildings, including the Palacio Municipal (Town Hall), stand along the north side of the square.
Church of El Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
The church of El Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, further north on the other side of Calle Mesones, was founded in 1712; it replaced the former "Mulato" church of Ecce Homo. Indian features are clearly evident on the pink stone façade, particularly on the five statues of saints standing in niches. On the altar in the right transept can be seen a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe by Miguel Cabrera. The 33 pictures detailing the life of St Felipe Neri are also attributed to Miguel Cabrera.
Church of San Francisco
The church of San Francisco, built at the end of the 18th c., can be found one block north-east of the main square. It has a beautiful Churrigueresque façade with a tall Neo-Classical tower, believed to be the work of Francisco Eduardo Tresguerras. The influence of Tresguerras is just as strongly evident in the Neo-Classical interior. In front of the church lies a small park containing a monument to Christopher Columbus, and on its west side stands the 18th c. Church of the Third Order.
Santa Casa de Loreto
The Santa Casa de Loreto, a copy of the Santa Casa in Italy with a statue of the Virgin Mary, was built at the expense of Manuel Tomás de la Canal in 1735. Paths on both sides lead to the Camarin, an octagonal room with six altars, one in the Neo-Classical style, the others Baroque.The Baroque retablos, are marvellous examples of Mexican Churrigueresque. The benefactor and his wife are buried in the chapel.
Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church
Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church (mid-18th c.) stands to the east of San Felipe Neri. A large conch containing the "Eye of God" forms the upper part of the early Churrigueresque façade. The interior has Neo-Classical altars and some old paintings, including works by Miguel Cabrera, Antonio Torres and Tomás Xavier de Peralta. Since 1993 an equestrian statue of Ignacio de Allende has stood in the renovated Plaza Allende.
In San Miguel de Allende and in neighbouring villages and Ranchos there are still isolated notable Indian chapels, whose simple buildings contain strange portrayals of saints, crosses and religious themes, all created in very individual styles. The Indians could hold prayer meetings in these chapels with their mixture of Indian and Catholic styles, free from the Spanish gaze.
Don Manuel Tomás de la Canal's beautiful 18th c. former manor house stands on the left-hand side of the Calzada Ancha de San Antonio when following it out of the town. It now houses the Instituto Allende, one of the town's two important art schools. The Parque Juárez lies to the east behind the grounds of the institute.
El Mirador Viewpoint
Above the town when leaving in the direction of Querétaro, El Mirador viewpoint offers an impressive panorama of San Miguel de Allende and its surroundings.
Cante Botanical Gardens
In a hilly region known as El Charco del Ingenio, on the north-eastern edge of town, lies the 65 ha (160 acre) Cante (in Chichimeca "the water that gives life") Botanical Gardens. These gardens, unique in their own way, are dedicated to the growing and selling of succulents, mainly cacti, including some rare species.
Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico
The little town of Dolores Hidalgo (1990 m (6531 ft); population 41,000) lies about 28km/17mi north-west of Atotonilco. With Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's "Cry of Dolores" ("Grito de Dolores") from the parish church early on the morning of September 16th 1810, after the conspiracy was threatened with discovery, Mexico's War of Independence began.
Casa de Don Miguel de Hidalgo
The Casa de Don Miguel de Hidalgo houses a historical museum, mainly displaying memorabilia concerning the heroes of the freedom movement. Dolores Hidalgo is also known for the colourful tiles (Azulejos) produced here.
The parish church, built between 1712 and 1778, has a beautiful Churrigueresque façade. The two retablos on the left and right are similarly impressive; the former, which is gilded, contains the famous image of the Virgin of Guadelupe.
Capilla de Casqueros
Capilla de Casqueros In the midst of fields, 5km/3mi on the far side of the railway line, stands the town's oldest church, probably dating from the middle of the 15th c.
Map of San Miguel de Allende Attractions