San Miguel de Allende is not just another picturesque, rustic town in Mexico. It is a place where creativity seems to waft through the air as if by magic. It is no wonder that its residents, both locals and expats, take such pride in showing off its marvel. Set in between hills, the town looks as if it were a painting that has come alive. It is anchored by El Jardin, the main square and garden, and the exuberant multi-spired Church of San Miguel the Archangel, inspired by the cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Although very forward-thinking and au courant, the town has an air of times past. It is a special place where donkey-pulled carriages and BMWs are side by side, and you are made to feel as though time stands still.
There are many reasons to love SMA, as locals call it. There is the year-round spring-like weather: warm days and cool nights. And then there is the colorful architecture and villas with walls so high they seem to touch the sky. And the houses with domes and clerestory windows that make one question, "Are they private homes or churches?" Sure, there is a strong colonial Spanish influence in the Mexican architecture, but the big "portales," or doorways, open to traditional patios and castles, and yet others reveal sleek contemporary architecture cradled in luscious landscape.
There is hardly a street without cobblestones or balconies cascading with flowers and greenery, or soft glowing lanterns that give the night its romantic air. If the streets are intriguing, so are the rooftops. Many buildings, both public and private, take advantage of the beauty of the patchwork of rooflines, terraces, floating gardens and pools that make the setting of the sun a spectacle to behold. Cielo is a rooftop restaurant and lounge so near the cathedral it seems you could almost touch it. Luna Tapas Bar is another rooftop lounge, located atop the luxury Rosewood Hotel. This place offers great cocktails and a postcard-perfect view of SMA.
Mexico is truly a warm, welcoming place. SMA is full of many hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and homes to rent for extended stays. L'Otel at Doce 18 Concept House is a great new concept, a boutique hotel atop a great mix of art gallery, shops, tailor, eateries, a restaurant and even a tequila sampling bar. The vibe is industrial-hip with a side of salsa. The Concept House is SMA's in-town response to experiencing typical things in a new way.
Finally, not to be missed by an art lover or collector is Fabrica La Aurora Cultural Arts and Design Center. Imagine over 70 galleries and design stores in what was once a factory. Mexican artists are well-represented there, as well as the many foreign artists who call San Miguel home. You really haven't been shopping until you've visited this daily art exhibit.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.