San Miguel de Allende – A Gem Waiting To Be Discovered


San Miguel de Allende is a city and municipality located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico, 274 km (170 mi) from Mexico City and 97 km (60 mi) from the state capital of Guanajuato. Historically, the town is important as being the birthplace of Ignacio Allende, whose surname was added to the town’s name in 1826, as well as the first municipality declared independent of Spanish rule by the nascent insurgent army during the Mexican War of Independence. It’s history and scenic beauty make it a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 


A guest post by Billie Frank.

Have you ever arrived somewhere you’ve never been before and felt like you’d come home? [Keith: yes, I have! Cape Town is one of them. :)] It’s happened to me three times: Santa Fe, where we now live, the west of Ireland, and most recently, San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico.

We arrived in San Miguel at the unlikely hour of 4:15am. As our driver navigated the narrow pre-dawn streets still alive with people, I fell in love. There’s something magnetic about this city that draws a lot of expats from both the USA and Canada.

When we began exploring the city five hours later I felt no different. Why does San Miguel call to me? I think it’s the quality of the high desert light, much like my beloved Santa Fe, the European feel of the Spanish Colonial architecture, and the feeling of vitality in the streets. For us San Miguel was a Velvet Escape. Here are a few suggestions for things to do in San Miguel de Allende so that you can have one too.


San Miguel is a walking city. The narrow, often hilly streets in El Centro, the oldest district in this over 400-year-old city are paved in cobblestones. As you walk, pay attention to the uneven surfaces to avoid mishaps. San Miguel has been dubbed “The City of the Fallen Woman,” by some. But, occasionally stop and look at the wonderful old Colonial era buildings and then look up.. Elegant wrought iron balconies often dressed with colorful flowers in terra cotta pots greet your eyes. Look higher and you’ll see lush rooftop terraces. As you walk by the massive, often antique, doors on the attached buildings you’ll wonder what secrets they hide. Sometimes, one will be open and you’ll get a view into the lush courtyard beyond. Pocket parks with elegant espaliered trees are tucked here and there.

Explore Spanish Colonial churches as well as some of the numerous historic public buildings you’ll encounter. The Instituto Allende, the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante” part of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes is in a former convent circa 1765, and the Biblioteca are all worth a visit. Take a walk in the lush Parque Benito Juarez with its romantic wrought iron benches and ponds. Tired? Treat yourself to a rich cup of coffee or espresso in one of the city’s many cafes. San Augustin Chocolates & Churros in El Centro, owned by a Mexican movie star is a popular stop.

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