Enjoy your visit to historic San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

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About San Miguel

San Miguel de Allende, nestled in mountainous central region of Mexico, is part of the "Bajio" region of the state of Guanajuato. This "low" region in reality averages about 7000 feet, but is so called for being a relatively flat area ringed by mountains.

San Miguel El Grande (as it was originally known) was founded by a Franciscan monk in 1542. It was an important stop over of the silver route from Zacatecas.

When the Mexican War of Independence began in the nearby town of Dolores (now know as Dolores Hidalgo) on September 16th, 1810, in an act now celebrated as "El Grito", the rapidly growing revolutionary army came to San Miguel El Grande. Dolores Hidalgo is known as the "Cradle of National Independence" while San Miguel calls itself the "Forge of National Independence", for it was here that General Ignacio Allende joined the army as Padre Miguel Hidalgo’s chief lieutenant and led the army to several victories. Allende was not able to enjoy a Mexico independent from Spanish oppression, however, as he was captured during battle and summarily executed. He is now a national hero, and the town renamed itself "San Miguel de Allende" in 1826 to honor his actions.

As the mineral wealth waned, San Miguel was popular as both a quiet, beautiful place to live and an attraction for the wealthy for its natural hot springs. The world famous Mexican comic actor, Cantinflas frequented San Miguel in the 50’s and 60’s, bringing with him an entourage of filmstars, singers and hangers-on.

By 1900, the town itself was in danger of dying out. Having been declared a national monument in 1926 (no neon signs, no new style buildings), the old centro district still has the colonial style elegance of its wealthy past.

It was after World War II that San Miguel began to revive as a tourist attraction, as many GI’s discovered that their education grants stretched further in Mexico at the US accredited art school, the Instituto Allende, founded in 1950.

San Miguel de Allende is world famous for its mild climate, colonial architecture, and large expatriate population, which estimates number in the 6,000 – 8,000 range – in a total population of about 85,000. Of these, the majority are Americans, with a healthy percentage of Canadians, and smattering of europeans and other nationalities.

Most of San Miguel’s sightseeing highlights are clustered around the compact downtown area. This is a wonderful city for aimless wandering along its narrow cobbled lanes. Walking tours of the City are hosted by the Travel Institute of San Miguel, (tel 20078). The city’s tourist office can be helpful with brochures and maps.

One of the best city views is from the town’s Mirador, located on a hill to the southeast of the city center. At the foot of the hill is El Chorro, which spouts a natural spring where the city’s women come to do laundry. Further along is the Parque Juarez, a shady green belt with ponds, fountains, and benches.