Art, colonial flavor in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Fri Sep 4, 2015 7:25am EDT
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By Walker Simon

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico (Reuters) - With cobblestone streets and no traffic lights, San Miguel de Allende has the look of a sleepy Mexican town.

But behind the colonial-era facades it hums with cultural activity: the town of about 80,000 people, barely three hours north of Mexico City, supports an estimated 120 fine art galleries and folk art museums.

In 2008, UNESCO named San Miguel a World Heritage site, citing it as a cradle of Mexican independence and highlighting its integration of architectural styles, from Baroque to neo-Gothic, within a 16th century Spanish colonial layout.

The city's landmark is the Parroquia church facade, a concoction of twisted lines, pointed arches and arrowed spires said to be inspired by postcards of Gothic European cathedrals.

It stands opposite the Casa de las Conspiraciones, or Conspiracies House, where local notables plotted the launch of the Independence War against Spain.

An early insurgent leader was town namesake Ignacio Allende, and his home on the Jardin is an independence history museum.

Also on the Jardin is the Canal House mansion, considered by UNESCO as a masterpiece for fusing the baroque and the neoclassical in its slender fluted shafts, elaborate ornamentation and carved doors.

An echo of Paris, one block away, is the Immaculate Conception Church's ribbed dome, believed to be modeled on the Hotel des Invalides, where Napoleon is buried. Like its Parisian inspiration, the statue-encircled cupola rests on twin rings of windowed galleries.   Continued...

A general view shows the 18th-century Canal House mansion, which is considered by UNESCO as an architectural masterpiece for its fusion of baroque and neoclassical architecture, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Walker Simon