Above: View of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The colonial city of San Miguel de Allende is one of our perennial favorites in central Mexico. Originally the site of an indigenous village, San Miguel was founded by a Franciscan monk in 1542 and reestablished by Spanish colonists in 1555 near two springs. The town flourished at a major crossroads, as evidenced by the immense palaces that stand in its center to this day. An influenza outbreak in the early 20th century left the city in serious decline, but its fortunes changed when artists established a school in a former convent. Expats restored crumbling colonial houses, and San Miguel grew into a major tourist (and retirement) destination, drawing visitors with its mild climate, well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, impressive gallery scene, fine restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Roof terraces around San Miguel afford memorable views of the skyline’s domes and bell towers, notably that of the Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel (parish church), a surreal neo-gothic fantasy of pink sandstone.

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