Viceregal chapels a forgotten tourist draw
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
In San Miguel de Allende there are more than 200 viceregal chapels, also called Indians’ chapels, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. They were built by missionary friars to attract the native Chichimecas to Catholicism.
As time passed, the chapels were forgotten, and now at most of them only the foundations remain. For more than 20 years several local administrations tried to restore some of the chapels, but these attempts were not successful until the 2009–2012 administration. In July 2011, the route of Indians’ chapels was announced as a new alternative tourist draw in the city. During the tour, visitors could admire the beauty and history of each chapel, guided by locals. The tour could be done on horseback or a bicycle or in a car or on foot.
A tourist center was also constructed, where locals could sell handicrafts and food. It had a parking lot and sanitary services and was administered by a cooperative made up of area residents. They tried to keep it open, but they gave up because there were no visitors.
Now, two years after the route of Indians’ chapels was launched it has not been supported by tour guides, who should be offering it, said Édgar Zamudio from the Tourism Council. In the beginning, the route was made up of six chapels. Entrance to each chapel cost 20 pesos (120 pesos for the six buildings), plus 160 pesos for transportation and 40 pesos for a lunch. “It was very expensive,” remarked Zamudio. They decided to divide the route into two, three chapels on each tour, and the cost decreased to 220 pesos. However, this tactic did not yield the expected results.
Zamudio said that in the last three months no visitors have registered at the chapels. The religious centers are currently closed and only open by reservation for groups up to eight people. For more information send an email to email@example.com.
In a previous interview with Atención, Édgar Bautista, director of Urban Development, said that the new road would bring more tourists to the chapels.