San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is the principal city in the municipality of San Miguel de Allende, located in the far eastern part of Guanajuato, Mexico. A part of the Bajío region, the city lies 274 km (170 mi) from Mexico City, 86 km (53 mi) from Querétaro, and 97 km (60 mi) from the state capital of Guanajuato.  The city's name derives from two persons: 16th-century friar Juan de San Miguel, and a martyr of Mexican Independence, Ignacio Allende, who was born in a house facing the city's central plaza. San Miguel de Allende was also a critical epicenter during the historic Chichimeca War (1540–1590) where the Chichimeca Confederation defeated the Spanish Empire in the initial colonization war. Today, an old section of the town is part of a proclaimed World Heritage Site, attracting thousands of tourists and new residents from abroad every year.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the town was in danger of becoming a ghost town after an influenza pandemic. Gradually, its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures were "discovered" by foreign artists who moved in and began art and cultural institutes such as the Instituto Allende and the Escuela de Bellas Artes. This gave the town a reputation, attracting artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, who taught painting.

This attracted foreign art students, especially former U.S. soldiers studying on the G.I. Bill after the Second World War. Since then, the town has attracted a significant number of foreign retirees, artists, writers and tourists, which has shifted the area's economy from agriculture and industry to commerce catering to outside visitors and residents.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco as a World Heritage Site in 2008. The area of designation includes part of the town San Miguel de Allende and part of the town of Atotonilco, which are about 14 kilometers apart. The World Heritage Site is highlighted by a core zone of 43 hectares in San Miguel de Allende's well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The other part of the World Heritage Site fourteen kilometers north, at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, has a core zone of .75 hectares surrounded by a buffer zone of about 4.5 hectares.


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