HISTORICALLY, THE CITY IS IMPORTANT… as the birthplace of Ignacio Allende, whose surname was given to the city in 1826. It was also the first municipality to declare its independence from Spanish rule during Mexico’s war for Independence
The city fell on hard times during and after the war, and by the early 20th Century it was in danger of becoming a ghost town.
The city’s colonial structures and baroque/neoclassical styles were ‘discovered’ by foreign artists, who arrived in the city and founded several art and cultural institutes, including the Instituto Allende and the School of Fine Arts. This gave the city a certain reputation, attracting artists such as the teacher and master painter David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Foreign art students were attracted by San Miguel’s cultural atmosphere, particularly a large number of US army veterans studying under the G.I. bill following World War II.
Ever since, the city has attracted a large number of foreign pensioners, artists, writers and tourists. This has transformed the area’s economy, shifting from agriculture and small industry towards commercial and service industries geared towards foreign visitors and residents.