When you're visiting San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, it's hard to tear yourself away from its colorful, cobblestoned city center even briefly -- but if you're looking to do a little shopping, particularly for antiques, unusual housewares and art, take a short walk to Fabrica La Aurora.
La Aurora was a textile factory which opened its doors in 1902, and was once one of the largest employers in the area. It specialized in cotton, for everything from textiles to tennis shoes. Anyone who thinks that Mexico reaped all the benefit of free trade agreements should take the history of this factory under advisement: the company closed its doors in 1991, due to increasing global competition.
The factory is now home to antique shops, local artist studios and galleries, all amid the old machine works and photos of the factory the way that it once was. The factory was sprawling, and its maze-like space is fun to explore, even if you've got firm intentions to keep your suitcase light. (Although note bene, La Aurora has three jewelry shops and an excellent art and design bookstore if you'll make exceptions for the light in weight or light in wallet.)
Check out a directory of shops and studios here, and browse the gallery to take a tour of this most unusual shopping venue.