San Miguel de Allende, a city located in the far eastern part of Guanajuato, Mexico, has been named the American Culture Capital for 2019 by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals. Mexico now has the most cultural capitals of any country since the designation began in 1998.
San Miguel de Allende, known for its historic center, well-preserved colonial architecture, and charming cobblestone streets, will be awarded a global marketing campaign, valued at $2 million, courtesy of the organization, with eight thousand television commercial spots in 45 countries around the world, according to the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals.
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The honor is a celebration of the city’s numerous attractions, including its year-round mild climate, quaint streets, outstanding restaurants and wealth of art galleries, which feature an array of Mexican artifacts. The city was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 to commemorate its architecture and role in the Mexican War of Independence.
San Miguel de Allende’s architecture ranges in style from Baroque to late 19-century Neo-Gothic. Particularly noteworthy is the Santuario de Atotonilco, a church complex built in the 18th century by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro, who said he had a vision of Jesus with a crown of thorns on his head and carrying a cross. The complex features rich Baroque mural work, created primarily by Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre over a period of thirty years, that adorns the main nave and chapels. The mural work has earned the complex the nickname the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende is also renowned for its creative cuisine as well as its world-class chefs. Restaurants include Nomada, which serves what many consider the best contemporary Mexican cuisine in the city, and La Parada, which specializes in Peruvian delicacies like ceviche and grilled beef shanks.
The city hosts numerous festivals, including San Miguel Arcángel, which celebrates the local patron saint with an artificial dawn that displays thousands of fireworks during the city’s all-night party. SMART, a multi-media cultural festival, is held annually in May and features exhibits by Mexican artists, as well as a variety of culinary and social events at local hotels, including Hotel Matilda, Dos Casas Hotel and L'Otel.
Other Mexican cities that have been named American Culture Capitals in recent years include Merida, Guadalajara and Estado de Colima.