A weekend in San Miguel de Allende’s will convince you that the town’s colonial charm is immense. I stayed at the modern Hotel Matilda, a delightful art-filled enclave of style and sophistication. The narrow cobblestone streets, line with vibrantly painted earth-tone facades and stone colonnades wind and climb through the towns stunning architecture. One only needs to follow the direction most traversed to find themselves in a vast open plaza, stunning garden park, market place or other historical, religious or architectural landmark in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are hidden treasures to find throughout San Miguel, from statuesque trees populated by nesting white egrets to the world smallest tequila tasting room. so Glimpse your first private courtyard when the opening of a heavy wooden door displaces you from the barely-there sidewalk and your wonder will amplify. While most of doors are to spectacular hillside private residences, many of the doors are open to tourists. Shopping enclaves, stores, boutique hotels, fine courtyard restaurants and rooftop bars now inhabit the centuries old architecture. All the streets, directly or indirectly, radiate towards the Jardin Allende, in the town’s main square, where the monumental pink sandstone neo-Gothic Parish Church of San Miguel Archangel stands. La Parroquia, as it is called locally, is just on of the many ornate and art filed churches to visit in San Miguel. Nearby, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the 18th-century Sanctuary of Jesus of Atotonilco, featuring mural work hand-painted over a thirty-year period.
The history of San Miguel is also to be found behind the massive wooded doors at Museo Historico de San Miguel de Allende and throughout the town monuments and museums. The creative arts are also an important part of the town’s history and at the Ignacio Ramírez Cultural Center “El Nigromante” historical murals and art work are on display and they share this former convent built in 1755, with contemporary exhibits, music festivals and performances and creative arts classes.
Children play and shade seekers relax throughout the Jardin Allende while many opt for a seat overlooking the busy central square. In the evening mariachi band play among the tourist on their way to fine and festive evening activities and locals enjoying their picture perfect town. San Miguel de Allende has equal footing in its historical past and the present. Considered one of the prettiest towns in all of Mexico and often awarded ‘favorite city’ by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards San Miguel burgeoning arts, cultural and culinary scene is sophisticated. Among the finest chefs in Mexico Enrique ‘Pancho’ Olvera is now the executive chef at Moxi, located in the award winning contemporary Hotel Matilda. Fine dining options abound including Bovine; Chef Paul Bentley’s meat centric brasserie located on the second level of Codigo Postal Design collective an upscale art and shopping space. Nearby at Doce 18 Concept House fine fashion, art, drink and dining are showcased and presented in a lively modern gallery atmosphere. A curated and exceptional collection of ceramics can be found at Trinitate. Enjoy midday pastries and sip coffee at outdoor cafes, watch sunset from a rooftop bar while enjoying cocktails made with local mescal or tequila, stroll the handcraft or produce markets and experience world-class dining or cozy gourmet local fare. A weekend is not enough time to experience all that San Miguel has to offer.
Beyond discovery by foot seeing San Miguel and its surrounding landscape is a remarkable sight from above. Floating in a Globo San Miguel hot air balloon at dawn was an exciting and tranquil adventure, and not to be missed. San Miguel is also a wine region and trips and tours to the wineries are great day excursions. We toured the beautifully landscaped hillside Hacienda San Jose Lavista, enjoyed the wine tastings and the opportunity to savor in the lovely countryside and expansive views. I recommend a visit to El Charco del Ingensio, San Miguel’s botanical garden and nature preserve. A natural spring-fed pool is deep center of steep canyon and their extensive collection of cacti and other succulent Mexican plants, many in danger or extinction, are planted among the native flora. The winding pathways, like the streets of San Miguel, reveal more to see at each turn all the while endearing me even more to this delightful destination. San Miguel de Allende.
Photography and Story by David Lewis Taylor.
Hotel Matilda on UnnamedProject.com
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