Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco

Guanajuato Region
N20 54 52 W100 44 47
Date of Inscription: 2008
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Property : 46.95 ha
Buffer zone: 47.03 ha
Ref: 1274

The fortified town, first established in the 16th century to protect the Royal Route inland, reached its apogee in the 18th century when many of its outstanding religious and civic buildings were built in the style of the Mexican Baroque. Some of these buildings are masterpieces of the style that evolved in the transition from Baroque to neoclassical. Situated 14 km from the town, the Jesuit sanctuary, also dating from the 18th century, is one of the finest examples of Baroque art and architecture in the New Spain. It consists of a large church, and several smaller chapels, all decorated with oil paintings by Rodriguez Juárez and mural paintings by Miguel Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre. Because of its location, San Miguel de Allende acted as a melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged cultural influences while the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco constitutes an exceptional example of the exchange between European and Latin American cultures. Its architecture and interior decoration testify to the influence of Saint Ignacio de Loyola’s doctrine.

Outstanding Universal Value

San Miguel de Allende is an early example of a rational territorial and urban development in the Americas, related to the protection of one of the main Spanish inland roads. The town flourished in the 18th century with the construction of significant religious and civil architecture, which exhibits the evolution of different trends and styles, from Baroque to late 19th century Neo-Gothic. Urban mansions are exceptionally large and rich for a medium-size Latin American town and constitute an example of the transition from Baroque to Neo-Classic. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is a remarkable architectural complex that illustrates a specific response, inspired by the doctrine of Saint Ignacio de Loyola. Its interior decoration, especially mural painting, makes the Sanctuary a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque. Both the town and the Sanctuary, intimately linked, played a significant role in the process of Mexican independence, with impacts throughout Latin America.

Criterion (ii): San Miguel de Allende constitutes an exceptional example of the interchange of human values; due to its location and functions, the town acted as a melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged cultural influences, something reflected in the tangible and intangible heritage. The Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco constitutes an exceptional example of the cultural exchange between European and Latin American cultures; the architectural disposition and interior decoration testify to the interpretation and adaptation of the doctrine of Saint Ignacio de Loyola to this specific regional context.

Criterion (iv): San Miguel de Allende is an exceptional example of the integration of different architectural trends and styles on the basis of a 16th century urban layout. Religious and civil architecture exhibit the evolution of different styles, well integrated into a homogeneous urban landscape. Urban mansions are exceptionally large and rich for a medium-size Latin American town. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is an outstanding example of a specific religious settlement, containing exceptional decoration that makes it a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque.

Suggested base:

Celaya is a city in Guanajuato, Mexico. Celaya is the third largest city in the State of Gunajuato, after Leon and Guanajuato. Coming from Guadalajara you can catch ETN the Executive class service with an option of single seats and WiFi with lunch for around M$350 (pesos) (US$25) one way or a lower class first class service from Primera Plus for 333 pesos where you get just a free soda and cookie. From San Miguel de Allende there is a second-class Flecha Amarilla bus [read more].

Leon is a city of 1,114,000 people in Guanajuato, Mexico, known for its leather goods [read more].

Queretaro is a city in central Mexico, it is capital of the state of Querétaro. The city’s full name is “Santiago de Querétaro”, and although it’s spelled out fully on the doors of every taxi in the city, nobody uses the full name in polite conversation [read more].

11 replies »

  1. When you arrive, you won’t be able to miss its crown jewel attraction in the middle of the glorious town square: Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. The towering gothic church was inspired by famed architect Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.


  2. Located in the country’s mountainous region of Bajío, there are so many things to do and explore in this popular Mexican destination. You can walk through the cobblestone streets that look even more enchanting at night while you marvel at the city’s gorgeous historic church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, or take part in one of the city’s vibrant annual festivals and parades.


  3. The downtown area has extremely strict building codes that ensure the cultural integrity and colonial authenticity of this city. Which means that buildings can only be certain colors and that they have to keep their colonial style. What that means for the rest of us is that we are gifted with a darling and charming city. I mean every building we saw was PERFECT. And my favorite part about the buildings… rooftop terraces. All of the roofs were flat and had AMAZING seating areas and even restaurants and lounges. I can’t wait to return with husband and show him all the amazing restaurants we discovered. Also the shopping is REALLY GOOD and extremely inexpensive.


  4. Get a sense of San Miguel’s understated colonial grandeur with a stroll along the palm-lined paths of Parque Juárez, a sun-dappled garden with pocked stone pillars and archways and fountains tarnished with mildew or overrun with moss. Hushed streets and lush trees occupy this part of town — as well as artists and writers. If you return to the park after dark, there’s a good chance you’ll catch an impromptu concert of one-man banjo bands and mariachi singers.


  5. As late afternoon eases into the darkness of evening, La Parroquia lights up brilliantly. One can blissfully while away an afternoon sitting in the square for hours, watching the community mingle. Locals and visitors will inevitably come up to talk with you. I met several locals and a woman visiting from New Orleans who discussed with me how the numerous courtyards reminded her of those in New Orleans.


  6. In the hot afternoon I followed the lead of the townspeople, who walked on the shaded side of the cobblestone streets, avoiding the brilliant sun that illuminated the intense blues, purples, golds, greens and reds of the low-slung tile-roof houses and boutique hotels. By sunset, much of the town seemed to congregate around El Jardín, the small, leafy main square, anchored on its south by La Parroquia, the pink Gothic-style parish church that is San Miguel’s most famous landmark. Young students hunched over laptops, tourists relaxed on benches and Mexican farmers with straw sombreros and silver-studded belts tried to make themselves heard above the riotous din of a thousand songbirds.


  7. San Miguel’s faithfully restored colonial-era churches, convents and mansions are among Mexico’s most beautiful and its festivals among the country’s most lavish. Church bells chime incessantly, costumed groups from throughout the country join daylong parades and fireworks blast off at midnight. San Miguel de Allende’s combination of architecture, culture, traditions and classy hotels, restaurants and shops make it a popular weekend getaway from Mexico City and second home for expats. The fact is it’s beautiful, it’s easy to get around and it’s charming.


  8. Some consider the neatly laid-out town of San Miguel de Allende a Mexican Disneyland. Full of stucco colonial buildings whose paint jobs I would describe as watermelon gelato, electric cantaloupe and tres leches, San Miguel is an Instagrammer’s playground. With a festive vibe and burgeoning food scene, this UNESCO World Heritage Site 170 miles northwest of Mexico City attracts visitors from all over.


  9. San Miguel retains a mystical quality, and walking its steep, cobblestone streets you might think it were 200 years ago. Colonial-era traditions are both religious and secular, and the combo of spectacular natural setting with artsy living beckons expats from all over the world.

    During a recent week there I visited galleries, attended a jazz concert; joined a christening in an ancient church; walked in El Jardin, SMA’s charming zocolo by the Mexican Gothic church La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel; and most of all, I just sat and absorbed the scene.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.