|Partial scenic view of San Miguel de Allende, Mx.|
|An unusual architectural style for Mexico |
and the city's signature landmark:
Parroquia de San Miguel
Like so many locales in Mexico, the founding of this city traces its roots to a Spanish Franciscan monk establishing a mission there. It grew to prominence because of its location in a highland plain situated between Mexico's early agricultural breadbasket to the east and south and its mining center to the west and north. It figured prominently in the Mexican struggle for independence from Spain. The city's current name honors one of the founders of that struggle, General Ignacio Allende. He is to the Mexican struggle for independence what George Washington was to the U.S. fight for independence from England. SMA nearly became a ghost town but was "rediscovered" in the first half of the 20th century. After WW II the founding of art schools by some ex-patriates led to an influx of americans, many of them GI's looking to utilize the GI bill benefits to study art. Today, both local and ex-patriate artisans as well as writers abound there. With its protected 18th and 19th century architecture, as well as its historical significance in the Mexican independence struggle, it has become a popular tourist destination for anglo visitors as well as middle and upper class Mexicans. Its elevation in the central highland plain offers a moderate climate. Its historico centro, as well as the nearby Scantuario de Atotonilco are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its centro has century old cobblestone streets and sidewalks, colorful colonial buildings, many plazas and this city contains an estimated 300 churches and chapels.
|Suzanne in a plaza |
during our first visit to SMA
The area population is about 160,000 of which about 45% live in the city proper. Estimates of year around ex-patriate population ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 (mostly U.S. and Canadian) with several thousand touristas visiting annually. One of its unique characteristics, unlike many Mexican areas that draw anglo residents and visitors, is how well the ex-patriate community has become integrated. While you might find a "gringo ghetto", they are remarkably rare and you will find ex-patriate residents scattered throughout most of the colonias of the city. SMA is home to the largest, privately operated bilingual biblioteca (library) in Latin America. The Biblioteca Publica is run by a volunteer foundation made up of both local and ex-patriate membership. The library offers English classes for locals, Spanish classes for ex-patriates, art classes for youth and does regular fund raisers, including a weekly colonial home tour to fund such community projects as computers for the grade schools in the state of Guanajuato. With the exception of beach resort areas, it has been one of the most costly places to live by Mexican standards with real estate cost rivaling those in the U.S. However, a 20% to 40% decline in real estate value has been noted in the past year or so mostly due to a somewhat shrinking population, the economic decline in the U.S. and the avoidance of Mexico in general due to the publicized drug violence across the country in the past two years. The nearby state capital of Guanajuato (about an hour away) is a little more affordable, much more Mexican and is considered one of Mexico's most beautiful colonial cities (It is!!) Here's more of what you'll see in SMA:
|This plaza and its adjacent Jardin face the Parroquia San Miguel and sees a gathering nearly every evening.|
|Roger enjoying a concert in the courtyard of La Biblioteca Publica|
prior to the start of the weekly home tour.
The cane was due to a sprained knee at the time.
|A traditional Mexican cocina|
|View from a typical rooftop in the centro.|
|The sala in our vacation rental home.|
|Roger and Katrinas after the parade.|
|Public concert on Ignacio Allende's birthday. |
His former home (now a museum) is in the background.
|The kids walking home ahead of us|
from the Jardin after an evening out.
|A typical street in SMA|
|Parroquia San Miguel from our rooftop terrace|
|Roger outside the large botanical gardens during a May visit|
|Roger at a rooftop wine bar|
|Popular with tourists, this mounted officer in traditional garb |
is also a regular member of the local police force.
We got to see him participate in a response to a police call.
|During our family vacation, these ATV's were a|
great way to navigate narrow cobblestone streets and explore.
|great tile artwork abounds|
|Suzanne with artists at a student art show. |
We bought a watercolor by Daniel (boy on right)
|Suzanne trying on her favorite|
San Miguel shoes.
|Nearby Guanajuato is the state capital and also one of Mexico's beautiful|
colonial cities. It is well worth exploring if you're in San Miguel.