Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fabrica La Aurora: Shop 'Til You Drop in San Miguel de Allende

With its many boutiques and galleries, San Miguel de Allende has long been one of the most popular shopping towns in Mexico. Now this charming Spanish colonial city has yet another "shop 'til you drop" option to add to its credentials: Fabrica La Aurora Art and Design Center, which is located only a short walk or taxi ride from downtown San Miguel.

Fabrica La Aurora occupies a historical building that for most of the 20th century was a large textile factory. La Aurora, as the factory was known, began operating in 1902 and became the biggest employer in San Miguel de Allende as well as an integral part of the community. Free trade agreements forced the family who owned the factory to close it in 1991 after Mexico was flooded with cotton imports.

La Aurora started coming back to life in 2001 as a new art and design center. Today the rambling structure is a labyrinth of interior design stores, fabric and handicrafts boutiques, art galleries, plus functioning artists' studios. There is also a well-stocked bookstore with a good selection of English-language books. The complex has three restaurants, including a pleasant open-air café that serves espresso drinks and what could be the tastiest banana bread in Mexico.

Old textile machines and other pieces of idle equipment languish among the shops and studios as reminders of the building's past. There are also attractive architectural details such as ornate wrought-iron gates, skylights, and towering brick archways. Even for non-shoppers, Fabrica La Aurora is a rewarding place to spend an afternoon exploring a slice of San Miguel's recent history and enjoying some of the most innovative artwork that the town has to offer.

For more information, visit the Fabrica La Aurora website.

Move  the cursor over the slide-show below to view captions. Click on images for information about ordering prints or leasing photos for personal or editorial use.

Fabrica la Aurora, San Miguel de Allende - Images by John Mitchell

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