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Walking Tour Shows Where to Find the Mission Architectural Style in San Miguel


By Cheryl Young

Visitors and residents of San Miguel de Allende from Southern California will most certainly know the Mission Revival style of architecture, which dates from the late 1880s. Characterized by red-clay tile roofs, expanses of plain (mostly white) stucco, broad half arches, and exposed wooden beams in the interior, these elements came together to create some of the most beautiful turn-of-the-century homes and public buildings in cities like San Diego and Los Angeles. What you may not realize is that the Mission style—the style upon which Mission Revival was based—can be observed in San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel has several excellent eighteenth-century examples of the Mission style, and you can see them when you join the Patronato pro Niños (PPN) Architecture Walk on Thursday, June 20.

The original eighteenth-century missions, many of which were crumbling by 1900, were designed by the Spanish monks to be centers for the conversion of indigenous people. The stalwart friars knew little about actual construction and worked mostly from memory to try and recreate ecclesiastical designs from their Spanish homeland. Using rough, local materials such as adobe, their laborers created simple, solid, and unadorned “fortresses” that were inexpensive to build and easy to construct and defend. The bell tower, called el campanario, was a defining feature, as were fancy wooden doors, carved so the (newly) faithful would know where to enter when the bells rang out!

The Mission style owes its further form and expression to a Franciscan monk called Father Junipero Serra (1713–1784). Father Serra was described as an extremely intellectual and somewhat delicate monk (although an extreme self-flagellate!) who traveled through New Spain. He was briefly in Querétaro—and may have contributed to the design of the Templo de la Tercera Orden on calle San Francisco—and then headed north, where he personally founded nine missions out of 21 in Baja California.

Serra’s Mission buildings were of the style of his island homeland of Majorca, with red tile roofs, broad expanses of white stucco, handsome half arches, and simple bell towers.

All donations and tips go to support the important work of PPN. For 49 years, this nonprofit organization has been providing medical and dental services to children in San Miguel whose families cannot afford to provide it for them. In 2018, it served 7,636 children; more than 600 per month!

All Patronato walking tours are conducted in English. Private tours can be arranged. Contact Christina at 415 152 7796 or at



The Architectural Walk by Patronato Pro Niños

Thu, Jun 20, 10am

350 pesos

Please gather in front of the Parroquia at 9:45am

No reservation required

Regular Historical Walks run every Mon/Wed/Fri, same time and place

300 pesos donation


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