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Greg Gunter of Dream Pro Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
architectural style san miguel de allende – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI love this question, Readers! As the only architect Realtor in San Miguel de Allende, I could write another small novel of an answer about the architectural aesthetic of San Miguel.
 
We essentially have two ends of the spectrum, with varying degrees of interpretation in between. At one end is the very traditional Spanish Colonial architecture, with lots of acid-washed cantera stone artificially aged to look 200 years old, heavy ornamental wrought iron that impresses the eye even without touching it, carved-cortina windows, hand-carved doors, hand-hammered copper sinks, and achingly beautiful cantera stone fountains.  Did you see “Like Water for Chocolate?” Now you get the picture!
 
Now remember, Mexicans have witnessed over 450 years of Spanish Colonial architecture, which is why Ricardo Legorreta and Luis Barragan become "starchitects" in Mexico—they gave their clients the refreshing new look of contemporary architectural style, minimalistic with no ornamental decoration at all, not even a hand rail on the precarious staircase!  There are many variations of contemporary now, some more industrial, some more Mexican contemporary (some wood and stone touches, but clean unfettered design).
 
More likely than not, you will find homes here to be toned down versions of traditional Spanish Colonial, a home that might boast colorful decorative tile in the kitchen next to a stainless steel sink, or a few decorative beams but a cast-concrete fireplace.  Mies van der Rohe said “God is in the details”— work with a Realtor who will help you understand the value of those details!
Mexico: +52 1 415-153-2600
Jonathan Peters of Ventanas de San Miguel – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Contemporary home with colonial elements, Ventanas de San Miguel, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe architecture of San Miguel de Allende is the 200-300 year old colonial style. New houses in San Miguel de Allende are built with the old colonial style architecture as well, in which you have a lot of privacy. You can be walking down the street and you can see the most nondescript facade that has the most unbelievable house behind those doors. You go in and it would be just an absolutely spectacular place.
 
San Miguel de Allende is still characterized by colonial architecture. The houses in San Miguel de Allende may have relatively fewer rooms, but have larger and higher ceilings. You begin to see a lot more diversity in architecture than you used to because San Miguel de Allende has become a focal point for so many more Mexican tourists and people looking for those types of homes. Sometimes, the foreigners are the ones who are really enchanted by the colonial look. If you're from Mexico, these colonial houses might just remind you of your grandmother's house and is not what you're looking for. As San Miguel de Allende is growing, we’re seeing a little more contemporary architecture than you used to in Centro San Miguel de Allende but there are guidelines that need to be respected because people fell in love with San Miguel de Allende partly because of the colonial ambience and most people like to stay in a colonial house.
 
If someone wants to be in Centro San Miguel de Allende but would like to have a little more glass and a little more air, they'll have heavy stone walls on the street, and when you go inside you see a more modern house which is what you least expected. As long as the street facade is not impacting your neighbors, it would be cool to have a contrast between contemporary and colonial architecture, and occasionally you see people do that kind of thing.
 
(Casual Colonial home at Ventanas de San Miguel de Allende Golf and Resort, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.) 
Wesley Gleason of Agave Sotheby's International Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Restored colonial home in Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe architecture in San Miguel de Allende is beautiful, and is in fact one of the big draws here.  There’s the old, colonial and historic Centro with courtyards, patios and columns, as well as all the things that we associate with traditional Mexican architecture.
 
The colors are regulated in San Miguel de Allende, so the town maintains the beautiful ochres and reds and all these nice shades that we love. The courtyard is still prominent in San Miguel de Allende for the most part.  The architecture blends itself to our lifestyle of being outside a lot, so we can enjoy the outdoors.  I love the architecture here.
 
It’s not possible for anyone to just put up whatever they like, wherever they like in San Miguel de Allende, because there are regulations regarding these issues.  San Miguel de Allende is a historical monument- it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, so there are regulations you have to go through with different boards, depending on where you live. The closer one is to Centro, or to the very heart of Centro, the more restrictions there are. For example, there are height restrictions and style restrictions, and these restrictions become tighter and tighter the closer you get into the center of town. 
 
In the very historic Centro in San Miguel de Allende, INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia) is really strict on what you can and can’t build. INAH relaxes a little more when you get out of town. For example, you can’t build a four-story building near Centro while there are some four-story buildings on the outskirts.  INAH keeps things consistent.
 
(Restored colonial home in Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Rio de Paz Cuellar – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
La Paroquia,  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe architecture in San Miguel de Allende is a main attraction for many people. It’s a town that’s over 500 years old. It’s like going to old Europe. There are couples on the streets, and there are colorful buildings
 
During the last few years they spent a lot of money renovating all the fronts of the buildings. Some of them were starting to look a little worn down so they spruced up the whole town pretty much- at least all the main streets. Our Parroquia (the main tourist attraction; what most people would call the church, in the center of town) is exceptional.  It’s a beautiful, huge old cathedral, and it is quite lovely. The people come from all over Mexico and get married in this place.
 
It’s an exceptional, beautiful place, which was built by a mason. He wasn’t an architect; he was somebody who had a vision. It’s very historic, and is one of the places where the Mexican revolution started, so they’re very proud of that. They have festivals just about every week that, if you live in town, sometimes might make you a little tired, but on the other hand, it’s amazing. They have parades that might last a half hour or two hours or all day, and sometimes these parades go on for hours and hours, and sometimes it’s never going to end. 
 
I would call San Miguel de Allende a colonial city. It’s actually a World Heritage city. They tried to put in a McDonald’s and they were kicked out of town. McDonald’s bought the building under another name and tried to sneak it in, but when people found out, they went out on the streets and they said, “Not in our town, no way!” 
 
The Starbucks snuck in a long time ago before anybody noticed. But it’s the most beautiful Starbucks probably in the world because it’s a colonial building with a beautiful garden. It’s an exceptional place but it does bear the Starbucks symbol on it. They do have a McDonald’s, though, if you go out of town up the road to the shopping mall. You can go there and eat your burgers from McDonald’s if you like.
 
(La Parroquia,  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Maria Mazarro of Kika's Botique – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
San Miguel del Allende , Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe architecture in San Miguel de Allende is very colonial. It reminds me of the old towns in Spain. They use “piedra rosa” or “pink stone” that is typical here.
 
If you own a property in downtown San Miguel de Allende, you cannot paint it any color you like. San Miguel de Allende is a Patrimonio de la Humanidad (UN World Heritage Site) so they are very careful with how the exteriors of buildings and houses look, as they have to keep the town looking very colonial. They have to keep the doors, the bars, and the authentic windows.
 
As you go out of the town, you will start seeing different types of architecture. There would still be some colonial houses and buildings but you will find more French-style architecture in the countryside. You will not find modern glass and steel buildings here. You won’t see tract-type homes like the ones that you see in the States.  
 
(San Miguel del Allende , Mexico, pictured.)
Lane Simmons of RE/MAX Colonial San Miguel de Allende – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
San Miguel de Allende skyline, showing church and architecture – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingSan Miguel de Allende became a Mexican national monument in 1926, and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, which helped a lot with preserving the colonial architecture and character of San Miguel, particularly the town’s historical central areas.
 
During the colonial days, income related to the silver mines of Guanajuato (most within about an hour and a half from here by car) largely financed the beautiful architecture you see in San Miguel de Allende.  After the mining era, San Miguel became, for all practical purposes, a ghost town. As a result, unlike the other places in Mexico that I call “classic examples of urban planning run amuck,” San Miguel de Allende doesn’t have huge contemporary stores with neon lights next door to beautiful historical buildings.
 
So, San Miguel’s historical architecture got preserved well before most of the town’s post-colonial era growth and development occurred, and the foreign as we'll as indigenous local residents zealously strive to protect this.
 
(Pictured: San Miguel de Allende skyline, showing church and architecture.)

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