Long a magnet for intrepid expats and creatives, this colorful colonial enclave attracts an ever-growing wave of visitors with its formidable art scene, singular architecture, and inimitable atmosphere.
A pivotal player in the early days of the Mexican War for Independence and one-time epicenter of the country’s brisk silver trade, San Miguel de Allende, perched 6,000 feet above sea level in the central highlands state of Guanajuato, has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Mexico’s crown jewels, luring streams of expats for decades with its storied history, enchanting Baroque/Neoclassical colonial architecture, and enviable climate. Now, a burgeoning array of exceptional eateries and top-tier hotels, coupled with its vibrant arts community and richly textured culture, are amplifying its ineffable allure for new generations of visitors.
Named for Franciscan monk Juan de San Miguel, a benefactor of the Indians, the city—a UNESCO World Heritage City since 2008—was the first Spanish settlement in Guanajuato upon its founding in 1542. “Allende” was added in 1826, five years after Mexico’s liberation from Spanish rule, to honor Ignacio Allende, a native son and former royal army officer who became a hero of the revolution. Allende’s birthplace, an elegant brick-and-limestone dwelling built in 1764, is now a house museum near El Jardín, the leafy main square.