Two towns in the state of Guanajuato have been designated as World Heritage Sites by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These towns are rich in history, astonishing architecture and culture.
Guanajuato city and San Miguel de Allende are true jewels of colonial beauty, two cities bearing witness to a once prosperous era for the mining industry. Many of these mines are open to the public as a touristic attraction and have managed to become a major contributor for the local economy once again.
Founded by the Spanish conquerors in the early 16th century, Guanajuato City became the world-leader in silver mining during the 18th century. Major city landmarks are a remembrance of this golden era of the mining industry. Some examples are the underground tunnels running across the city and a 600 meters-deep pithead appropriately named “Boca del Infierno” (Hell’s Mouth). The success of this industry played an instrumental role in shaping the architecture of that time, beautiful baroque and neoclassical constructions adorn the city. These architectural styles are also prevalent in most of the central states of Mexico. The majestic churches of “La Compañía” and “La Valenciana” are prime examples of baroque architecture in Central and South America.
Guanajuato city witnessed many historical milestones in Mexico’s fight for independence. As a matter of fact, the independence movement of our country started here. Guanajuato is the birthing place of Mexico as a nation.
A city envisioned only in dreams where magic is real, and time seems to have stopped. Beautiful haciendas were home to viceroys and slaves alike, a place where gold was once the harvest of the soil, a city of joy and sorrow where men of honor and action changed their country’s history. The city squares and alleys inspired tales of romance and horror such as: The legend of “El Callejón Del Beso” (Kiss Alley), a very well-known romantic tale.
The city has gained notoriety for its architecture and rich history, but above all, for its beautiful people and traditions. It is also regarded as “The Colonial Jewel of the Americas” and designated as the “Cervantine Capital of the Americas” by UNESCO. Home to artists and scholars, the local University is among the most prestigious in the country.
“The world’s most beautiful city” is yet another accolade for it. Every single one of the city’s inhabitants preserves its cultural heritage and, in many ways, this cultural wealth is shared and passed down to those who visit this land.
“The Colonial Jewel of the Americas” was also declared “Historic site of Guanajuato and its adjacent mines” in December 1988.
San Miguel de Allende
A fortified city founded in the 16th century for the purpose of protecting Royal Roads built at that time. The city reached the peak of its glory during the 18th century, when most public and religious edifications were built in a Mexican-baroque style. A few of them are masterpieces of said style, which originated during the transitional period from the baroque to the neoclassical style.
Dating back to the 18th century and located 14km away from the city, the “Santuario de Jesús de Nazareno de Atotonilco” is a prime exponent of baroque art and the architecture of New Spain. The ornamentation at the interior of the building and its mural paintings makes this church a true masterpiece of Mexican-baroque art.
The city was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 7th, 2008 and chosen by the Condé Nast Traveler magazine as “The Greatest City in the World” thanks to its cultural contributions, remarkable architectural beauty and the various points of interest to visit around the city.
San Miguel de Allende was founded in 1542 by Fray Juan de San Miguel, a Franciscan monk who named the new settlement as “San Miguel the Great”.
On March 8th, 1826, the city was renamed as San Miguel de Allende in honor of Ignacio Allende, a Mexican military officer that played a key role in Mexico´s independence movement and who was also born in this city.
The city is praised internationally for the artistic atmosphere created by its buildings and streets. There is a large community of foreign nationals living in it and it should be a must-visit destination for any architecture connoisseurs.