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The Art of San Miguel de Allende

sunny 26 °C

The colonial city of San Miguel de Allende was founded by the Spanish in 1555 on the site of a village belonging to the Guamare people. There were numerous wars and skirmishes before the Spanish took full control and San Miguel became a major trading post for the many silver mines in the surrounding mountains. The city virtually died at the end of the 19th century and only came back to life because of its beautiful architecture and pleasing landscapes...
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The first art institute was set up in 1938 and became hugely popular after the Second World War when demob'd G.I.s were given grants to study abroad. How many actually became artists and how many just had a great time in the sun will never be known, but the art schools and institutes thrived as word spread. Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston became a well-known artist here before his death in 2015, and we dined several times in the restaurant featuring many of his works like this...
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Painting or photographing San Miguel is a religious experience for many, and it is religion that shaped this city. After we were held captive in a monastery in Spain several years ago you might question our decision to stay in a convent in San Miguel. However, unlike the monastery in Caravaca, the Posada Altea has been de-consecrated and no longer has bars on the windows. The topiary in the convent's grounds is impressive...
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As is this little bird that sat outside our window every morning and sang to us...
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The steeply graded cobbled streets rising to the heights of San Miguel are a blaze of living colour...
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And the city is topped off with the parish church of San Miguel Arcángel - one of the most photographed and painted churches in Mexico. Here is the church glowing in the setting sun...
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The Gothic bell tower and façade was constructed in 1880 by an indigenous bricklayer, Zeferino Gutierrez, based purely on picture postcards of European churches.
There is a wealth of ecclesiastical statuary in the city centre but this sweet depiction of Mary stands in our hotel's grounds...
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And this is one of the many statues of religious figures in San Miguel...
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Despite its high altitude and low rainfall, the residents of San Miguel have impressive gardens that they can replenish every year at this time. Benito Juarez park has been the site of an annual floral and artisans festival since the 70s and we wandered, with growing jealousy, past hundreds of displays of plants and flowers that wouldn't last five minutes in our garden...
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San Miguel is a ten hour drive from the U.S. border and cars with Californian and Texas licence plates are ten a peso. Every other person on the street is a gringo and this is reflected in the spiralling price of real estate. The restaurants, liquor stores and supermarkets cater to their tastes and there are sufficient Irish pubs and Boston pizzerias to put a smile on any New Yorker's face. But San Miguel is a wonderful place to visit: not least because all motorists, even taxi drivers, give way to pedestrians even when they are not on a pedestrian crossing. This never happens anywhere in Latin America and it came as a complete, but pleasant, surprise.

Posted by Hawkson 14:48 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

I spent one week here two years ago with Sonya and we loved it. Thanks for all the beautiful reminders. Always a pleasure to read your blog and follow you along.

by Trudy

Some great images you captured, wants me to up and join you. Someone painted everything white here on Gabriola, and turned the temperature way down, stay away! G

by Gottfried

Sounds like a wonderful experience. Would love to hear more about being held captive in the monastery in Spain. Had snow today briefly.

by Sue Fitzwilson

To be imprisoned in such a monastery - how divine!

by Janet

A wonderful place to visit.

by Keith Myers

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