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San Miguel de Allende is located about 160 miles north of Mexico City in the mountainous central region of Mexico. It remains in 2008 a relatively untouched antique city of the old world. There is a blessed absence of traffic lights, parking meters, billboards, and neon signs. The city seems free from the pressures of modern living. San Miguel de Allende has been declared a national monument: no building is allowed that doesn't conform to Colonial style. This small, quiet, charming town with its mild weather and slow pace is sure to capture your heart. From your first stroll down the cobbled streets of San Miguel Allende, you will discover why people from all over the world come, return and, in many cases, decide to stay.
Mining became the fevered pastime of the greedy Spaniards and in their fervor to extricate as much richness as possible from the soil, their actions resulted in the development of mining camps, which became towns, and eventually grew into cities. As this mineral economy turned the wheels of development, these villages grew into centers of trade for the many haciendas that were prospering in the surrounding areas, and the wealthy began to build opulent mansions, churches, and civic buildings. The Catholic missions turned into towering cathedrals, masterpieces of architecture. And so, the colonial cities like San Miguel de Allende were born.
During the early mining days a route was established to carry the precious metals from Guanajuato City to Mexico City. Mule trains led by the Spanish often encountered difficulties between the Chichimeca Indians and the muleteers, so a mission was established in the center of this territory. In the year 1542 a Fransican friar named Juan de San Miguel was commissioned for the job, and the village of San Miguel was officially established. It retains a rich colonial charm with its cobblestone streets and beautiful Spanish colonial mansions, many of which have been restored to their former splendor. The thing most people notice first in San Miguel is The Parroquia, built in 1683 and located in the center of town overlooking the main square. It received a makeover in 1888 by an Indian artisan, Zeferino Gutierrez, whose ideas were inspired by a postcard of a French cathedral.
To put things into historical perspective, in the 1770s, when Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was little more than a frontier outpost with twenty log cabins, San Miguel de Allende already had a population of over 30,000, fattened by the rich gold and silver trade. Not even Boston with 16,000 or New York City and its 25,000 were as big. In the United States only Philadelphia of the time rivaled San Miguel de Allende in size.
As the mineral wealth waned, the many caravans ceased, and by 1900, San Miguel de Allende was in danger of dying out. Today San Miguel de Allende is a popular artistic community and home to thousands of United States citizens and expatriates from around the world.San Miguel de Allende is almost never hot, and enjoys a mild climate year round with cool evenings. San Miguel is also a very green city, with trees, flowers, botanical gardens, and is surrounded by hills.