September 22, 2017

3154 MEXICO (Guanajuato) - San Miguel de Allende - part of Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco (UNESCO WHS)

The city of San Miguel de Allende sits at a high elevation (1910m) on the Central Mexican Plateau, which is a large arid-to-semi-arid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico. A series of low mountains, the Sierra Central, surround San Miguel and are part of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The entire city is located within the national Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century, San Miguel was an indigenous Chichimeca village called Izcuinapan.

The city has since been known by various names, and was a critical epicenter during the historic Chichimeca War (1540-1590). The Spanish called it San Miguel el Grande and sometimes San Miguel de los Chichimecas (San Miguel refers to the Father Juan de San Miguel). The name of the town was changed in 1826 to San Miguel de Allende in order to honor Ignacio Allende, who was born there. Because of its location, it acted as a melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged cultural influences.

The town had the role to protect the Royal Route inland, and reached its apogee in the 18th century, when many of its outstanding religious and civic buildings were built in the style of the Mexican Baroque. Some of them are masterpieces of the style that evolved in the transition from Baroque to Neoclassical. While the outlying areas of the town have changed over time, the historic center remains much as it was 250 years ago. Urban mansions are exceptionally large and rich for a medium-size Latin American town.

The architecture is domestic rather than monumental, with well-tended courtyards and rich architectural details. The houses have solid walls against the sidewalks, painted in various colors, many with bougainvillea vines falling down the outside and the occasional iron-grated window. Many have large front doors which were used by horses and carriages. The town is noted for its streetscapes with narrow cobblestone lanes, that rise and fall over the hilly terrain, and occasionally defy colonial attempts to make a straight grid.

La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel has a Neo-gothic façade with two tall towers that can be seen from most parts of town. It was built in the 17th century, but the current façade dates since 1880. The Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez, also called the Escuela de Bellas Artes or El Nigromante, is housed in the former Hermanas de la Concepción (Sisters of the Conception) convent, founded in 1775. It is a two story cloister surrounded an extremely large courtyard with large streets with a large fountain in the middle.

Next to the cultural center is the Inmaculada Concepcion Church, locally known as Las Monjas (The Nuns). It was originally constructed as part of the convent, between 1755 and 1842, with an elegant cupola added by Zeferino Gutierrez in 1891, inspired by the Les Invalides in Paris. The cupola is octagonal decorated with Corinthian columns in the lower area and the upper area has a window with a balustrade and statues of saints. Topping the cupola is a lantern window with a statue depicting the Immaculate Conception.

San Miguel de Allende - Wikipedia
Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco - UNESCO official website

Sender: Ingrid Nicolae
Sent from San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato / Mexico), on 25.07.2017

Photo: Alberto Gomez Barbosa

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