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From Baroque to Barragán: Patronato Pro Niños Architectural Tour Reveals the Diversity of San Miguel’s Architectural Influences

Aldama Hse

By Cheryl Young

“The landscape setting of the place is one of remarkable beauty—the city sloping gently on a hillside, fringed with luxuriant orchards and fertile fields, and environed by mountains of most noble shape. The place has a tranquil air, and but for touches of newness here and there, the dreamy old town, hardly affected by the railway that runs below in the valley, a mile away, might be fancied sleeping the sleep of ages.”

This lovely, quaint description of San Miguel de Allende was penned in 1899 by a wealthy Bostonian in his treatise on Spanish colonial architecture. Indeed, if you are in the Jardín early in the morning, before the balloon sellers and the shoeshine stands appear, the Historic Center does have the aura of being frozen in time.

Handsome mansions and ornate church facades are reminders that over the centuries, our town has enjoyed periods of great wealth and growth, followed by events that stopped growth and progress almost instantly. Due to the cycle of prosperity and decline and wealth again, dilapidated buildings were not torn down but restored to their original beauty, if not function.

For example, one mansion, once the family home of México’s War of Independence hero Ignacio Allende, is now a museum that honors his achievements.

So what has been preserved? The Spanish conquistadors brought their language, religion, and, of course, architectural styles. Over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the dominant style was Baroque—rich, flamboyant, and opulent. The wealth taken from the Americas fueled the gilded architecture of courts and churches and glorious mansions.

Throughout the colonial period, as tastes changed in Europe, new styles made their way to New Spain. The neoclassical period took its forms from the Enlightenment’s fascination with all things Greek and Roman. Formal, with an emphasis on balance, symmetry, and the use of classical motifs and structures, neoclassical architecture exists on many San Miguel churches. Even after independence, European styles heavily influenced Mexican architecture—everything from romantic Gothic Revival to spartan Modernism.

Go deeper into the architectural history of San Miguel by taking the Patronato Pro Niños (PPN) Architectural Tour on February 7 or 21. (Regular Historical Tours run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the same place and time.) All tour donations and tips go to support PPN’s important work.

For 48 years, this nonprofit organization has been providing necessary medical and dental services to children in San Miguel whose families cannot afford to provide it for them. In 2017, PPN served nearly 7,000 children and completed over 15,000 consultations; that is more than 1,000 per month!

All tours are given in English. No reservations are needed, but we may need to limit the group size. With five days’ notice, we can offer private tours. Contact Christina 415 152 7796 for information at historicalwt@patronatoproninos.org

 

Tour

The Architectural Tours from Patronato Pro Niños

Thu, Feb 7 and 21, 10am

Meet in the Jardín, across from the Parroquia

350 pesos donation per person

Regular Historical Tours leave every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

at the same time and place

300 pesos donation per person

Please arrive 9:45am

 

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