Like most Mexican towns, San Miguel de Allende has a main square that is a lively hub of activity. Unlike most Mexican towns, instead of being called the zocalo or Plaza de Armas, in San Miguel the main square is called el Jardin Principal. Jardin, which means "garden" is a fitting name for this square which is full of carefully trimmed laurel trees and other greenery. Plentiful benches invite you to have a seat and watch the people go by. A kiosk in the center of the Jardin provides a space for live music performances. This is the meeting place for expats and Mexicans alike, and the perfect spot to while an afternoon away, or spend an evening enjoying live music and the animated social life of this colonial town.
The Jardin is surrounded by remarkable colonial buildings, and traffic is closed to all but the north side of the square. The municipal government office is located to the north. On September 17, 1810, the First Council of Independent Mexico took place in this building, with independence leaders Hidalgo and Allende presiding. There is a tourist information office here where you can get a free map of the city and information about current events. To the east and west there are buildings with high arcades. You'll find cafes and restaurants, along with vendors set up in the shade of the arches.
The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is located on the south side of the Jardin. This multi-spired church is the iconic symbol of San Miguel de Allende. Its dusty rose Neo-Gothic facade is unique in Mexico. The church was built in the seventeenth century, but the distinctive facade was added later, in the late nineteenth century. Zeferino Gutierrez, an indigenous bricklayer and self-taught architect was in charge of updating the facade and it is said that he was inspired by postcards depicting gothic churches in Europe.
The Jardin has free wifi, so take your laptop to check your email, or better yet, leave your electronic devices behind and immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural life of San Miguel de Allende.