The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel
San Miguel de Allende got it's name from a couple of different sources. The San Miguel portion comes from the Franciscan Friar, Father Juan de San Miguel established an adobe church here to serve the Spanish troops that were stationed near here to protect the silver mining mule trains bringing silver from the area mines to Mexico City. It was once called San Miguel el Grande to differentiate it from other smaller "San Miguel's nearby. It later became San Miguel de Allende to honor one of it's native sons, Ignacio Allende. Allende was a compadre of Father Hidalgo and was a hero in the Mexican Revolution. After the Mexican War of Independence, the area fell into a slump and that probably contributed to the preservation of San Miguel as it is today.
Statues commemorating Ignacio Allende, a hero of the Mexican War of Independence
In 1926, the Mexican government declared San Miguel a national monument and prohibited destruction of historic buildings in the town center. So, a lot of San Miguel looks as if it came straight out of the 1700's. The streets are narrow, usually one lane, one way and mainly cobblestone. Today, about 140,000 people live in San Miguel -- including a large number of ex-pats from the US and Canada. The number of expats varies depending on the source you follow -- I have seen estimates anywhere from 3,000 to 17,000 persons. Many of the ex-pats are artists, some are students, and a large amount of them are retirees. San Miguel is at about 6,100 feet in elevation, thus it has a very pleasant climate. Warm days, cool nights and dry air.
Another view of the Church of San Francisco
No wonder it's a popular spot for Texans in the summer!!
One of the main attractions in San Miguel is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, built in 1683. It is not a cathedral, rather a Parroquia is a parish church. The legend is that the design of the church was done by a local artisan with no formal training. He purportedly designed it after looking at a French postcard! The Parroquia is an amazing sight, particularly at night when it is lit up.
Foo and I spent most of the day looking at various properties for lease for the new restaurant. We saw lots of properties and by the end of the afternoon, our head was spinning trying to keep track of the pricing and lay outs of the places we saw. The only cure for that in my mind is tequila, so off we went to the Azotea -- a great rooftop bar that served good drinks and tapas.
Another view of the Parroquia
We were joined by one of Foo's friends, Karen. It was chilly that evening after the sun went down, so the bartender provided wraps for the ladies. It was definitely different than Austin in July! We enjoyed some tapas and a couple of margaritas. As we were leaving Azotea, we passed by the Parroquia and were just in time for a showing of several short movies involved in the San Miguel Film Festival that was going on that week in San Miguel. The lights were off on the Parroquia as the movies played, and once the movies were over, the lights came up and so did the fireworks! We got an amazing show before it was time to walk back where we were staying that night.