Centro Cutural Bellas Artes
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Peace and Art in a Former CloisterTwo blocks from the sidewalk cafes, shops and crowds of the main square of San Miguel de Allende is a lovely plot of pure peace. Despite a long official name, it's known locally simply as “Bellas Artes”
Walk through the huge wooden doors into the colonial courtyard. Unless a gaggle of girls is spilling out of a ballet class, you’ll feel an immediate sense of peace. Built in 1755-65 as a cloister for the Convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the building has kept that sense of reflective peace, as though it's ingrained in the walls. Recently reopened after a two-year renovation, it is home to one of the best art schools and exhibition and performance spaces in San Miguel.
Check out the current exhibitions in the galleries, then wander around the courtyard, with landscaping lush as a jungle—20’ tall poinsettias, 30’ tall bamboo, fruit-laden orange trees, palms and leafy ferns. The center of the square is anchored by a splashing fountain topped by an endearing concrete Lamb of God.
Climb the stairs to see the murals on the walls, most dating from the 1940, and the arch-framed views of the bell tower and dome of the neighboring “Las Monjas” church. And don’t leave without seeing the amazing abstract mural in a downstairs room, painted in 1948 by Davíd Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the famous triumvirate of Mexican muralists—along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. It is arguably the most famous work of art in San Miguel. Non-flash photography is allowed.