According to local Mexican historians, there are or were 51 haciendas in what is now the municipality of San Miguel de Allende. The majority are now ruins, some lovingly reconstructed and, a very few, still functional and relatively untouched by the Mexican revolution and land redistribution of the last century.
While most of the postings on this blog have focused on capillas and, to date, we have probably painted more than seventy with an estimated 230 more just in this municipality, our interest is shifting…..
Take a day’s drive in any direction from San Miguel and you are sure to see old aqueducts and presas (dams) and other remnants of haciendas….huge grain storage buildings (trojes), corrals, churches and capillas, bullrings, some living quarters and miles and miles of stonewalls…
We are just beginning to explore, as artists, these historical structures and the land.
Ah, yes, the land….hacienda refers to not just a collection of buildings and structures but the endless Mexican countryside that each hacienda controlled….frequently thousands and thousands of acres. The earliest ranches (*estancias) and haciendas farmed cattle and sheep with crops added as irrigation projects were completed. A few haciendas included working mines and were known as haciendas de beneficio. It is impossible to do justice to the grandeur of these haciendas during our two-plus hours of plein air painting. Most of our paintings are mere snippets….something that captures our interest and we hope yours.
Five kilometers from the Luciernaga shopping center is the ex-hacienda Alcocer with its striking and massive old church, Templo de San Nicolás Tolentino; multiple buildings fast becoming ruins, old aqueducts and a historic presa (Presa de Alcocer 20° 52′ 9.23″ N, 100° 42′ 7.19″ W).
A typical view of the countryside that was once part of ex-hacienda Alcocer and which is still being used for grazing as it has been for centuries.
Even closer to San Miguel is the lovingly reconstructed and immaculately kept ex-hacienda La Lejona with this charming capilla attached to the main living structure. Most of the haciendas that we have visited have small chapels (capillas) attached to the main living quarters. They were used primarily by the family of the hacendado (owner of a hacienda).
A little further from San Miguel, but still not far as the crow flies, is the ex-hacienda Cañada de la Virgen located deep in a spectacular and rugged canyon with this usually peaceful Rio Virgen the last obstacle before arriving at the handsomely reconstructed hacienda. Now a working cattle ranch with a long history as a cattle ranch stretching back to 1820, you can buy their organic beef under the brand Cañada de la Virgen.
Alcocer: Population, 1224; Elevation, 2113 meters; Dwellings; 326.
*Estancia—Grant of land for running sheep or cattle, an estancia de ganado mayor (horned cattle) measured one square league (6.76 square miles) and an estancia de ganado menor (sheep) measured about 3 square miles.