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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de AllendeSan Miguel de Allende View slideshow

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.

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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.
Address: Hernández Macías, #75, Mexico

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.

Museum

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

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.

Indian Chapels

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.

Instituto Allende

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.
Address: Ancha de San Antonio 22, Mexico

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.

Parish Church

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.

Surroundings

Santuario de Jesús Nazareno

The interior of the convent church of Santuario de Jesús Nazereno and the various chapels are decorated with frescos, mainly by Miguel Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre, depicting attractive traditional themes. Behind the high altar, in the Camarín, there are sculptures of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles. The Rosary Chapel on the right has frescos of the Battle of Lepanto and leads to a Camarín with a ceiling in the form of a shell.
Every year the town is the destination of pilgrims from all over Mexico. Two weeks before Easter Sunday the statue of the Christ of Señor de la Columna is carried in a grand nocturnal procession into the church of San Juan de Dios in San Miguel de Allende. On the third Sunday in July a local religious festival with Indian dances takes place in Atotonilco.

Atotonilco

Atotonilco (Náhuatl: "place of the hot waters"), a convent founded by Father Felipe Neri de Alfaro in 1740, is a popular place of pilgrimage with a much-revered statue of the Redeemer. It lies approximately 15km/9.3mi north of the town and about 3km/2mi from the road. After the proclamation of Mexico's independence from Spain the priest Miguel Hidalgo interrupted his march at the head of his hastily-assembled army here. Taking the painting of the Virgin of Guadelupe from the church, he fixed it to his banner. In this way the Madonna became the patroness of the Mexican freedom movement.

Cañada de la Virgen

Take the road to Celaya and turn right to Guanajuato past the Presa de Allende reservoir. It is then 15km/9.3mi to the archaeological site of Cañada de la Virgen which, until recently, was relatively unknown. To date, finds include an 18 m (60 ft) high pyramid, a temple, terraces and an avenue. Datings made so far indicate that this site existed between ad 800 and 1000 and was probably under Toltec influence.

Thermal Baths

Very close to San Miguel de Allende, mainly in the direction of Dolores Hidalgo, are a number of thermal baths.

Mineral de Pozos, Mexico

A few kilometres outside San Miguel in the Querétaro direction a road leads off left towards Dr Mora. Follow the signs to Dr. Mora through Los Rodriguez and over
highway 57. About 5km past highway 57 there is a crossroads. Go left toward Pozos and San Luis de la Paz. About 15km up the mountain you enter the cobblestone streets of Pozos. Go straight till see the town square and church. From here it is a further 10km/6mi south to the town of Mineral de Pozos.
Pozos now has about 3,000 people including about 50 full or part time expats. In addition to the mines, Pozos is known for pre-hispanic musical instruments that can be found at many craft shops.
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