Mexican 'ghost town' named best city in world

18th Oct 2013

City breaks don't come better than Mexico's marvellous metropolis of San Miguel de Allende.

The celebrated colonial conurbation scooped first spot in the Top 25 Cities in the World list in Conde Nast Traveller magazine's 26th annual Readers' Choice Awards earlier this month.

It has all the amenities modern travellers expect from an international city with all the romantic, traditional ambience of a small town.

The biggest draws for visitors on group tours to San Miguel de Allende, situated in the far eastern part of Guanajuato state in central Mexico, are the cultural sites in its well-preserved historic centre.

This centre is jam-packed with stunning architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

That and the adjacent Sanctuary of Atotonilco have been made Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Holidaymakers can enjoy a whole day just exploring the buildings, strolling randomly along its streets and exploring some of the facades and architecture that have made San Miguel world famous.

Painters and cameramen have often immortalised sites such as La Parroquia, a striking Neo-gothic parish church, and El Mirador, a huge pre-Columbian Mayan settlement that looks like it is straight from a sci-fi film.

Entire books have captured the attractiveness of the doorways along the street.

Conde Nast told why San Miguel won the accolade: "The lack of street lights and billboards makes the region romantically and historically beautiful, and the city itself offers a traditional feeling of a small town in the heart of Mexico."

But barely 200 years ago, the locals could never have dreamt of such acclamation.

The destination waned during and after the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) and was in danger of becoming a ghost town.

San Miguel's saviour came in the shape of its baroque/neo-classical colonial buildings, which attracted overseas artists to the city and sparked a tourist revolution.

Conde Nast Traveller said 2013's listings were the most comprehensive yet, with 1.3 million votes cast.


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