San Miguel de Allende is a fusion of Mexican and Spanish influences known for its colonial architecture, romance, history, and culture. Located in Mexico’s central highlands, San Miguel de Allende has a flourishing art scene and a historic cobblestoned city center that’s ready to be explored. If you’re interested in architecture in Mexico, you won’t be disappointed with San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel de Allende’s architecture is both colonial and Spanish-inspired, making it both charming and photogenic.
Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into the architecture of San Miguel de Allende. From exploring the different styles of architecture in Mexico through the years to a detailed look at the architecture in San Miguel de Allende, such as neo-Gothic cathedrals and baroque-style buildings, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what influenced the shaping of this historic Mexican city.
Architecture in Mexico is extremely varied and differs based on the region and historical influences. However, the styles of architecture in Mexico can be broken into different time periods, starting in the pre-Hispanic period up to the present day. Let’s take a look at the different styles of architecture below.
The pre-Hispanic period is defined as the era before European influences arrived on what is now known as present-day Mexico. This era includes the years before Columbus and Spanish colonizers set foot in North America and consists of Mesoamerican civilizations like the Mayans and Aztecs.
Architecture during the pre-Hispanic period includes many of the preserved historical sites found throughout Mexico today, such as the Temple of Warriors in Chichén Itzá, Mexico, which is part of classic Mayan architecture. You’ll also find houses made from adobe and stone in this era, which continues to influence architecture in modern-day Mexico.
Colonial period architecture in Mexico laid the foundation of modern-day Mexican architecture. The early years of the Colonial Period consisted of public buildings and cathedrals with Renaissance-style influence, which drew on ancient Greek and Roman culture. This is because the Spanish rule in Mexico during this time aimed to convert indigenous communities to Christianity, which is why elaborate monasteries and cathedrals began to rise during this period.
However, one of the most popular architecture styles during the colonial period was Baroque, which aimed to break away from Renaissance-style architecture by using paintings and sculptures to teach Christianity. Architecture in the Baroque period included columns and pilasters, along with intricate details highlighted with gold leaf or paint and stucco details.
Neo-gothic architecture was another popular architecture style in Mexico during this period, where the Spanish Crown trained architects, painters, and sculptors to take back some of the Baroque-style influences that the Crown believed were tarnishing the look of their new colony. Neo-gothic architecture draws influence from the medieval ages and incorporates decorative arches, gables, windows, and porches.
New technologies created new architecture styles across the globe, including Mexico. With cast iron easy to manufacture, along with the ability to import stained glass, Italian marble, and granite, Mexican architects were now able to incorporate these elements into their designs. 19th and 20th-century architecture aimed to unite the country by drawing on pre-Hispanic elements and implemented themes that drew on ancient Mexican motifs.
After the Mexican Revolution in 1917, the government allocated more funds toward public works projects, which included the construction of new buildings and federal housing. Architecture during the modern and contemporary period included mid-century modern, colonial revival, and contemporary-style architecture.
San Miguel de Allende is the perfect example of a blend of Mexican Baroque and neo-Gothic architecture. The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel is a parish church in the city center that draws heavily on neo-Gothic architecture and is famous for its soft pink sandstone spires that rise above the town.
The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel still acts as the town's main parish, and was designed by architect Zeferino Gutiérrez. Due to its vastness, many travelers use the church as a point of reference when navigating the town, and throughout the day, the towers change colors from the sun’s rays. If you’re looking to learn more about history and architecture in San Miguel, visiting the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel is a must.
El Jardín San Miguel de Allende is the town’s main square, with the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel lying on the eastern side of the square. The 17th and 18th Century architecture in San Miguel de Allende’s square makes it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers travelers a glimpse into this historic time period.
After a busy day walking through open-air markets, visiting museums, and shopping at local stores, El Jardín San Miguel de Allende offers the perfect place to sit and relax. Designed in the French style, this “main garden” boasts wrought iron benches, lush trees, and fragrant flowers. At Road Scholar, you can discover Mexico’s origins, including the influence silver, culture, and revolutions had on areas like San Miguel de Allende.
At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of educational programs in Mexico, including San Miguel de Allende. Our expert-led tours will walk you through the history of this enchanting Mexican city, including the architectural styles that span five centuries, local cuisine, and renowned museums. We’ll uncover the best of Central Mexico through our guided tours, allowing you to immerse yourself in Mexican culture and forging lifelong bonds with fellow travelers in your cohort.
In addition to discovering the architecture of San Miguel de Allende, we offer learning adventures across the globe, including South American travel adventures and educational programs to Asia, Europe, and North America.
Enroll in a Road Scholar today to see the best of San Miguel de Allende architecture!
Stay in the loop on our new blogs, special offers, new adventures and more.