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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> Dos Semanas en San Miguel de Allende tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Dos Semanas en San Miguel de Allende

In October and November of 2008 I returned to San Miguel de Allende for Day of the Dead. San Miguel de Allende is located in the heartland of Mexico. It was founded by Fray Juan de San Miguel a Spanish Franciscan missionary in 1542 near a dry river about five miles from the current town. There is a legend that states that all of the dogs from the mission ran off one day and were found at a spring called Izcuinapan or El Chorro as it is known today. After this occurred, the mission was moved to this spot by Fray Bernardo Cossin. During the 16th and 17th centuries it grew as the Spanish began to settle there by establishing cattle ranches and farms. Silver was discovered in nearby Zacatecas and Guanajuato. The town was renamed San Miguel de Grande and it had become an important commercial center.

Ignacio de Allende y Unzaga was born in San Miguel in 1769. He became a firm believer for Mexican independence. He joined forces with Father Don Miguel Hidalgo who is known for his famous speech made on September 16, 1810 in what is known as Dolores Hidalgo today. They lead a revolt for independence but unfortunately the Spanish defeated them. They were both executed and their heads were hung in cages outside of a granary in Guanajuato. In 1826 the government of Guanajuato changed the name of San Miguel el Grande to San Miguel de Allende in honor of General Allende.

While I was there I took advantage of the scenic beauty of this colonial town. I was there during the 2008 presidential election so it was interesting to see posters of Barack Obama for president posted in the city. The town had vendors selling sugar skulls and pastry dough baby shoes, little animals and coffins to be used for decorating the altars and the tombs in the local cemetery.

On October 31st many of the expats in San Miguel de Allende got dressed up as Catrins and Catrinas. There were ofrendas built on the jardin with papel picados flying in the evening sky. It was a lively affair.

A day trip was taken to the city of Guanajuato. Before entering the city we visited the San Cayetano church in La Valenciana that was built in the 18th century. Ground was broken in 1765 and it was completed in 1788. It is on a hill overlooking Guanajuato. This church was built by Antonio de Obregon y Alcocer who was the count of La Valenciana and the owner of one of the richest and most productive silver mines producing 20% of the silver in the world. The church is built from pink stone known as cantera rosa. The interior of the church is full of ornate golden altars, filagree carvings and huge paintings. Unfortunately, the church was never finished as it is missing one of it's bell towers. The baroque façade was completely over the top. It was comparable to the churches in Puebla.

From here it was onto Guanajuato. A day in Guanajuanto wasn't enough to take in the sights of this Unesco World Heritage site founded in 1559. This city is full of underground tunnels which twist and turn underneath the city. Guanajuato is also the home of Diego Rivera. His home is now a museum. After lunch on the Jardín de la Unión that is surrounded by many restaurants and laurel trees it was onward to visit a former hacienda called San Gabriel de Barrera. The hacienda is now a museum just on the outskirts of Guanajuato. The Barrera family built this former hacienda in the late 17th century. The hacienda was opened as a museum in 1979. This huge hacienda is 237,000 square feet and is made up of seventeen gardens. Today the state government of Guanajuato owns it.

Once again it was a delight to visit San Miguel de Allende and the other attractions in the state of Guanajuato.
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Mounted policeman on horse
Mounted policeman on horse
Bar San Miguel
Bar San Miguel
Saints in the window
Saints in the window
Stone Carving of San Miguel
Stone Carving of San Miguel
Shopping Bag and Paper Flowers
Shopping Bag and Paper Flowers
Toy Coffins
Toy Coffins
Patio
Patio
Rooftop Garden
Rooftop Garden
Detail of Doorway
Detail of Doorway
Carved Doors
Carved Doors
El Grito
El Grito
Fray Juan de San Miguel
Fray Juan de San Miguel
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