Friday, December 17, 2010

An Uncommon Guide to San Miguel de Allende

I've been a fan of of American photographer and author Robert de Gast's work since the mid-1990's when I came across his book The Doors of San Miguel de Allende in which he published his wonderful photographs of San Miguel de Allende's Spanish colonial doorways. Robert de Gast went on to create two more alluring photography books about San Miguel entitled Behind the Doors of San Miguel de Allende,and The Churches and Chapels of San Miguel de Allende

Robert de Gast's latest book The World of San Miguel de Allende: An Uncommon Guide is something of a departure from his earlier work in that it is a guidebook. Unlike regular travel guides, this one does not center around supplying practical information (although general topics such as climate and transportation are covered). Rather this well-researched book lives up to its name as an "uncommon guide" by exploring San Miguel mainly through its history and architecture. In addition, the book is printed on high-quality paper and is lavishly illustrated with the author's own photos, so it doesn't look like a typical destination guide..

The book opens with a general introduction to San Miguel de Allende and a chapter that traces the origins of the town back to pre-Hispanic times. These are followed by sections on historical neighborhoods, street names and the town's eccentric house-numbering system, fountains (San Miguel has over four dozen), church bells, and even door knockers. Also included are biographies of notable citizens from San Miguel's past, an events calendar,  plus descriptions of nearby places worth visiting. In short, this is a guide for travelers who want to explore San Miguel de Allende in depth and also for those who simply want a beautiful keepsake about a town that they love.

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