CRUZ DEL PUEBLO BELVEDERE IN CALLEJÓN DEL CABELLO
Do you want to take a short and pleasant walk to get some nice views?
Cruz del Pueblo Belvedere is closet o the city centre, just thirteen minutes away from San Miguel parish church. It is a very quiet place that has some wonderful views of the city. Not many people arrive there. It is a pleasant walk that goes through picturesque streets, clean, well-cared of and full of local flavour. These streets have beautiful houses with grilled win-dows, painted gates, little streetlamps and flowers. However, you must prepare yourself, as the place is at the top of a stretch of stairs. You will find on your way places to rest and sev-eral little shops to buy a drink if it’s too hot.
Once at the top, you can get a beautiful view of San Miguel church, the mountains and the dam. There are several benches as well, ideal to get some rest, and a cross with an image of Christ and the prayer "Líbranos de todo mal" (“Deliver us from evil”). The cross gives its name to this quiet place. It is an ideal moment to enjoy the peace, listen to the sound of the many church bells in the city and meet some of the many cats that populate the area. It is also an excellent place to take some photographs of the whole city from above.
On your way, you will not only find nice houses, but also the Church of Santo Domingo, under the custody of the Dominican Sisters of the Queen of the Rosary. Maybe you will get their permission to climb to the church’s tower and enjoy another fine view from there.
This Belvedere is 900 metres away from San Miguel church and it will take 13 minutes to walk there. You must take Correo Street, a street with a traditional candy store. You will have to walk 460 metres until Salida Real a Querétaro, where you can find the Catholic Church of Santo Domingo. There you must turn right and after 160 metres turn left up to Cruz del Pueblo through a stretch of stairs. After another 130 metres you must turn right at Callejón del Cabello and you are there.
Address: Callejón del Cabello 5. Zona Centro
COLD MEAT FROM SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE
There are several typical dishes in this beautiful colonial city in Central Mexico: enchiladas mineras, pacholas, rabo de zorra or chiles capones. But here we will introduce you a very tasteful one, eaten very often by locals: the fiambre or cold meat San Miguel de Allende, so typical it shares its name with the city.
This dish has in it almost all the alimentary groups, as it is a mixture of meats (chicken and pork tongue and trotters) with several fruits like guayaba, apple, oranges, lime and avocado, and vegetables like jícama, betabel, olives or peanuts.
All these ingredients are seasoned with vinaigrette made with olive oil, Apple or pineapple vinegar, salt and pepper. The dish is served over a bed of lettuce. It is served cold, but it is a true feast of colours and flavours.
You need to mi well all the ingredients in the vinaigrette and pour them over the mix. Every-thing must macerate for at least an hour.
As we were saying it is served over a bed of lettuce leaves in a big round dish. Above them we put the meats, fruits and vegetables. Only at the end we will add olives, avocado slices and peanuts.
This dish matches well with some local drinks, such as "Lágrimas de la Virgen", agua de Mezquite, mezquilatole, cebadina, binghí, chiloctli or colonche. You should avoid for once the usual drinks and try one of these local variants when you’re having your Fiambre de San Miguel.
It is easy to find restaurants to try this dish and other local cuisine delicacies in the city centre.
HANDICRAFTS CREATED WITH THE HEART.
There is no better place to buy local products from a city than its handicrafts market.
The Mercado de Artesanías de San Miguel de Allende is a clean and well-organized place with friendly people that won’t hesitate to give you a smile and will entertain you with the exhibition of their excellent work and their sympathy.
In this market it is easy to find all kind of local handicrafts: work in brass to cover mirrors, wool rugs and shawls, carvings in stone and Mesquite wood, figures in paper mache, glasses and jars made of blown glass and ceramic from the city and the region.
Regarding the Mesquite wood, we will tell you this was a tree loved by the native inhabitants of the altiplano before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Huachichiles venerated this tree with extended arms forming crosses that they decorated with flowers and other ornaments. They symbolized the spirit of Nature. This veneration of a tree with the shape of a cross freed Spaniards from the idea that the native religions were work of the Devil, as it looked as if it were an approximation to their own religion, Christianity. Nowadays, handcrafted crosses of Mesquite wood are still made.
In addition to all of the above, you will be able to buy stones, jewels and antiques. Highly demanded items are Mexican hats and "huaraches", traditional shoes for men or women, made of leather or raffia palm, which is cheaper. You will find high quality work and Prices, as there are so many sellers, are competitive.
This is Mexico and in this kind of markets you can always bargain to adjust the price, even if it is just a little. You will find almost everything. The market is really vast and it will be diffi-cult to leave without a souvenir or a present to take back home. However, if you don’t want to buy anything, the place is so local, colourful and beautiful that it is worth a visit. Another useful tip is to take your time: don’t buy in the first place you find. Remember there are many stalls and you should compare prices offered and the quality of the work before taking the final decision.
Address: Plaza Lanatón, Andador Lucas Banderas S/N. Zona centro.
It is just seven or eight minutes away from the Church of San Miguel Arcángel.
Open every day from 9 to 19.
SAN MIGUEL PARISH CHURCH FROM ALDAMA STREET
Aldama Street is considered one of the most beautiful streets in the city and one of the most photographed in Mexico.
This colourful street, with its gorgeous colonial style will transport you to another time. Its cobblestone pavement was set in 1893, as can be read in a slab in the main square. This street is crowded with old houses and beautiful benches dating from the 18th up to the 20th century. These buildings set against the background of San Miguel parish church create a fascinating view. It is one of the most valuable and best preserved streets in town and it has appeared in magazine covers, documentaries and commercials. It is located just at the back of the Cathe-dral. Because of its stone pavement, comfortable shoes are strongly advisable.
From this place, it is possible to take wonderful photographs of the beautiful buildings and the Cathedral, but if you walk the street down to Benito Juárez Park, you will find many lovely hideouts where you will be able to give good use to your camera’s memory card.
This street takes its name from Juan Aldama, who was a Mexican revolutionary who took part in the country’s Independence movement and was born in San Miguel de Allende.
In 1982 an area of 0.75 square kilometres was defined as historic core zone by the President of the Republic José López Portillo. This area was considered worth of preservation because of the civic and historical trajectory of its dwellers and their relation with the liberation movements of Mexican people and the cultural traditions which reflect the historical evolu-tion of this region since the 16th century. The harmony of its spaces, its urban structure and its natural landscape was also considered.
For all these reasons and many more, the city of San Miguel de Allende was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
Aldama Street is at the back of San Miguel parish church. If you take Allende Street from the same name gardens, it will become Aldama after crossing Cuadrante Street.
Address: Calle Alcalá, Zona centro, 37700, San Miguel de Allende.
MUSEO DE LA CATRINA, A MEXICAN SYMBOL
Quite probably, during your trip to Mexico you will have seen many "catrinas", those merry female figures of a skeleton with beautiful long dresses and big hats decorated with flowers and feathers.
La Catrina, whose original name was "la Calavera Garbancera", the Chickpea Skull, was created by José Guadalupe Posada in 1910 and renamed by Diego Rivera. However, there were precedents in the so called “combat journals” where well-dressed skulls and skeletons were depicted as guests in upper class parties, as a denunciation of social inequalities during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The “chickpie” allusion referred to the Natives who tried to appear as Europeans. Catrina come from the nickname Catrín, used to design elegant gentle-men in the company of beautiful women. Posada’s Catrina was not dressed. She only wore a flamboyant hat and served as criticism of poor people who didn´t have anything to eat but tried to appear to be wealthy by wearing French hats. Diego Rivera will paint her with her usual attire in his famous mural "Sueño de una tarde dominical en la alameda central". In the mural, she is seen in the company of her creator, José Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera as a child and his wife Frida Kahlo. This mural can be seen in Diego Rivera Museum in Ciudad de Mexico, while Posada’s original work can be found at the Posada Museum in Aguascalientes. Nowadays, La Catrina has become a popular image all around Mexico.
In San Miguel de Allende a Museum dedicated to her can be visited. This museum is set in the second floor of an 18th century big house known as Casa de las Diligencias. It was the main stagecoach station during the early 1700s.
The museum is home to twenty-five natural-size Catrinas and other thirty smaller figures, all set in different backgrounds. There is an area dedicated to President Porfirio Díaz y to Gua-dalupe Posadas, as well. An area dedicated to Frida Kahlo’s kitchen and traditional Mexican cuisine can be visited as well. There is also an exhibition about Mexican lottery.
A room dedicated to the Revolution and another one about the Golden Age of Mexican cin-ema complete the collection of this wonderful museum, inaugurated on March 18th, 2006. It is a true jewel and a good chance to learn about Mexican history during the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century.
Address: Calle San Francisco 18, quite closet o San Miguel parish church, in the historic cen-tre.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 to 22. Tickets: 50 pesos for adults and 40 pesos for chil-dren.
LET’S LOOK FOR AN UNFINISHED MURAL OF UNIQUE RELEVANCE
In San Miguel de Allende there is an unfinished mural dedicated to the life and deeds of gen-eralísimo Don Ignacio de Allende, son and pride of this city.
Would you dare to look for it? It is very easy and we will give you some clues.
The first clue is that it is only three minutes away from San Miguel church.
The mural was created by David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the most important artists and muralists of the 20th century. Other key names are Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. During the 1940s the painter was teaching art to war veterans from United States and Canada, two nations closely linked to this Mexican city.
Second clue. At the same time, Siqueiros began to paint the vault of an old convent trans-formed in cultural center (third clue).
The mural is unfinished and it will be remain unfinished. It depicts the life and deeds of gen-eralísimo Don Ignacio de Allende. It can be found in a big hall of 17 x 7 metres with a vault drop ceiling.
The mural has the characteristic strokes that identify the painter’s style and generate dynam-ics in a very schematic way.
The mural is under the responsibility of INAH (National Institute for Anthropology and His-tory) and experts visit it regularly for maintenance. It can be visited but photographs and re-cordings are not allowed.
Siqueiros was born the 29 of December, 1896 and died in cuernavaca on January 6th, 1974.
His christening name was José de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros, and he remained active until 1971. Among his most important works we should mention La Marcha de la Humanidad.
We have already given you three clues and now we will give a last one: in front of the build-ing that keeps the mural you will find a metallic sculpture of a bull created by David Kester-baum.
Information: The visit of the mural is free of charge. The old convent that keeps the mural is now dedicated to fine arts and has exhibitions of painting, drawing, sculpture, music and dance. However it is famous mainly for mural painting. The complex is home to a museum, an auditorium, two art galleries and a charming cafe in the courtyard.
Opening time: Mondays to Fridays from 10 to 18.
1.- It is three minutes away from San Miguel church
2.- It is located in an old convent.
3.- Nowadays it is a cultural centre.
4.- There is a metallic sculpture of a bull outside the building.
We think these clues will make it easy to find. Would you dare to look for it and enjoy it?
THE CRISTO DE LA CONQUISTA AND THE LEGENDS REGARDING THE PUENTE DEL FRAILE
San Miguel parish church is the most important in the city and is home to a true artistic and spiritual treasure: the Cristo de la Conquista.
Just after San Miguel was founded, Gospel began to be preached among chichimecas. They resisted to lose their lands and this became an area of conflict.
Don Vasco de Quiroga, first bishop in Michoacán, erected San Miguel as parish church in 1564 and gave it to the Franciscan Friars with the task of preaching the Gospel in the area. In 1580, two friars, Francisco Docell and Fray Pedro de Burgos, left Valladolid with Spanish soldiers and came to San Miguel. They brought with them two sculptures of Christ made of corn cane in Pátzcuaro. Their destination was San Felipe, but when they arrived to Puente del Fraile, on the way from Celaya to San Miguel they were attacked by many chichimecas. The Spanish contingent was small so they were easily outnumbered and killed. Both friars died holding their Christ images and watered them with their blood. A few Spanish soldiers managed to escape and arrived to San Miguel el Grande. They took with them the two images of Christ. One of them had lost an arm, but it was found days later at the place where the ambush had happened.
It was decided that one image would remain in San Miguel and the other would travel to San Felipe. It is said that the Lord has kept the region free from epidemics and the Christ has mi-raculously cured those who came near it. This story and the later conversion of chichimecas gave the image its name: Señor de la Conquista.
The image of Christ that remained in San Miguel can be seen today inside the church of San Miguel Arcángel. It is placed in a small chapel at the left of the church. Its feast is celebrated the first Friday in March.
There are many legends regarding the Puente del Fraile (Friar’s Bridge), the place where the massacre happened. It is a bridge built in 1535, years before the city was founded. Cars do not cross it any more, as a new one has been built. A 17th century legend says a friar appears when you are going to cross it. He asked you to help him cross and then distract you and make you fall. Its height varies from 5 to 15 metres. It was also said that while crossing it, you should never look back. If you did it, you would see the friar’s spirit and then you would fall. Actually, a good number of drivers lost their lives crossing it when it still was in use. Maybe because it is very narrow and they would drive drunk. A dark note: the bottom part of the structure is still used nowadays for rites of witchcraft and santería and candles, eggs, clothes and herbs are frequently found there.
Address: Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Calle principal s/n, zona centro.
LET’S WALK TO PASEO DEL CHORRO AND THE WASHING PLACES
Let us suggest you a relaxed walk. In fifteen minutes, starting at San Miguel church, you will be at the greenest place in town. This is the place where the city was first founded in the 16th century. You must walk Recreo Street, where you will find the Plaza de Toros on your left, not one of the biggest in Mexico, but very cosy. If you keep walking, you will arrive to the Parque de El Chorro (El Chorro Park), a beautiful place full of paths, with a pond and a Bo-tanic Garden. It is easy to find a bench to take a break.
According to a legend, Fray Juan de San Miguel, founder of the city, found a spring here when he saw dogs drinking from it. He decided to stop and create a city in that place.
During the 17th century the Canal family would build baths, washing places and a primitive chapel at the top of El Chorro. Below it, we will find the Casa de Cultura. The Santa Cruz chapel was the first Christian building in San Miguel and there the first Christian rite was performed. Nowadays there is a primitive chapel built in the 17th century and a later one erected during the 18th century. It is just a pleasant village church, small but charming. The buildings can only be reached through a stretch of stairs and it has wonderful views. This is also the site of a pre-Hispanic place named Itzquinapan.
The washing places are still in use and its architecture is pleasant as well. Some days every week, they are used as creating space for artists.
The current name "El Chorro" (The Stream) was given by Don Felipe González in 1802 to commemorate the installation of a running water system. 18.000 pesos were paid for it. It is a beautiful place for a walk or a break.
The Paseo del Chorro is built in one of the oldest and narrowest streets in San Miguel. A spring makes it a green area.
Adjacent to parque del Chorro can be found parque Benito Juárez, a quiet place crowded with flowers and benches under the shadow of leafy trees and winding paths. There is an area for children and a bandstand.
Once you are in the chapel, if you want to take a different way back to the centre, you can take El Chorro Street and the Barranca Street, turning left in Hospicio Street.
In both ways, little restaurants or take-away stands can be found. There is also a restaurant at the park, beside the Dirección de Cultura y Tradiciones.
Address: Paseo del Chorro: Recreo 91. Zona Centro.
Open all day. Recreo Street takes you straight there. It is a fifteen minutes walk (about 1000 metres).
Santa Cruz del Chorro Chapel: El Chorro 56. Zona Centro.
Parque Benito Juárez: Cañadita de los Aguacates 75. Zona Centro.
Open every day form 8 to 21.
SAN FRANCISCO SQUARE. A BREAK WITH MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OF THE TEMPLE.
In front of San Francisco church there is a little square with a small and marvellous garden, a fountain and many benches ideal for a break. It is a perfect place to see people walking and enjoy the gorgeous façade of the 18th century church.
It is a few steps away from San Miguel parish church, in the city centre, and it is a good place for a moment of relaxation surrounded by art and nature. It was declared Mexico Magical Village in 2002 and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 7th of July 2008 as Villa Protectora de San Miguel and Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco.
San Francisco’s façade defies every attempt to classify its architectonic style. It is consid-ered Baroque by many, others label it as churrigueresco and it is branded as well as rococó. There are historians who consider it a combination of the three styles. However it is a beauty-ful work of masonry that represents the main saints revered by Franciscan Friars: it has their Founder Saint at the tip, even if the most refined work was left for the Christ and the image of the Immaculate Conception. The façade at the eastern side of the temple is gorgeous as well. It was made during the 17th century and it shows the lightness and opulence of brocade.
The tower is Neoclassical and in the interior we can appreciate the Ionic and Corinthian col-umns.
Close to it we find the Monastery of San Francisco, created in the 16th century. It has the austere simplicity of this order’s early times. It is rather interesting to compare both churches and see the evolution that happened from the Conquest years to the posterior period of peace, prosperity and despotism that ended with the revolution.
Address: Avenida San Francisco esquina a Juárez, Centro.
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