San Miguel de Allende is a postcard-perfect colonial town filled with 17th and 18th-century Baroque buildings. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the small city has retained its historical charm with restrictions on construction and development. The city centre remains much as it was 250 years ago, and the narrow cobbled lanes are framed by yellow, orange and ochre buildings twined with bougainvillea vines.
The city has a number of beautiful buildings including the pink Gothic parish church, La Parroquia (one of the most photographed churches in Mexico), the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramiez with its magnificent courtyard, the Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal, which houses the historical artwork collections of the Banamex Cultural Center, and the richly-decorated Oratorio de San Felipe Neri Church.
A centre of Bohemian creativity in the 20th century, San Miguel de Allende is very popular with foreign expats and tourists in Mexico, having been noted as a desirable retirement destination for Americans. The city blends the relaxed atmosphere of a small town with the cosmopolitan nature of a much larger city. Houses are intermixed with shops and businesses, and there are a wide variety of restaurants, art galleries, and more than 80 bars and cantinas.
San Miguel de Allende has a lively arts community, with productions hosted regularly at the Angela Peralta Theatre and the Otra Cara de Mexico. The town also has its own bullring. Tourists will also enjoy wandering the outdoor markets searching for local handicrafts and souvenirs. The best are the Zacateros Market and the Mercado de Artesanias.
The overall attitude of San Miguel de Allende is a festive one, and the citizens will take any excuse to hold a festival or celebration. The largest celebrates the town's patron saint, the Archangel Michael. Popularly known as the Fiestas de San Miguel de Allende, the week-long celebration includes parties, sporting events, cultural celebrations and dance performances.