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Morelia, Michoacán: A Photo Essay

by planetnomad on February 1, 2011

The Birthplace of a War Hero and More

You don’t have to look hard to find a city or state in Mexico which might be named for some famous war figure or revolutionary hero. They are all over the place! Morelia is no exception! This capital city of the state of Michoacán takes its name from the independence war hero, José María Morelos y Pavón who was born and raised here. Before this, it was named Valladolid, in honor of the city in Spain where Morelia’s founder, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza was from originally.

Approximately 360km west of Mexico City, this city is considered by some to be the most visited of any non-beach areas in Mexico by non-foreigners. Of course one of the largest draws is the substantially large colonial imprint which remains to this day. With over 150 city blocks of near-perfect colonial architecture laid out in the local “cantera” or, pink quarry stone, UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site in 1991.

What follows is a brief photo essay of a few of Morelia’s sights which should not be missed during any visit.


With identical twin towers looming in excess of 60 meters, this structure dominates the city’s colonial heart and impresses with its beautiful Baroque architecture. Construction was started in the mid 17th century and was finally completed in 1744. Some reports claim that this cathedral is among the highest in the Americas which is built in the Baroque fashion.

Plaza de Armas

Also known as Plaza de los Mártires or (Martyrs’ Plaza), this fine-looking square sits adjacent to the main cathedral and has abundant seating, a gazebo and is always full of activity from street performers, clowns, musicians or just casual walkers.

Palacio Clavijero

Originally the Jesuit School of San Francisco Xavier, this magnificent building dates back to the mid 17th century. Aside from being a Jesuit School, it has served as a correctional facility for priests and then became the congressional seat for the state of Michoacán in 1824. Currently, it houses some state offices, holds cultural events and provides some space for revolving art exhibits.

Mercado de Dulces

This market, dedicated to candies and artisanal crafts, is right next to Palacio Clavijero. Here you will find the numerous candies made in the state of Michoacán, from Morelianas, rollos de guayaba, jamoncillos, to the famous “ate”, pronounced “ahh-tay”, which is a candy made from fruit pulp and sugar cane. For more about the sweets of Morelia, click HERE

Jardín de Las Rosas

The “Garden of Roses”, as it’s called, provides a peaceful setting for either a drink at one of the surrounding cafes or casual conversation while in the shadows of bronze statues dedicated to the Spanish writer, Miguel Cervantes and the famed first bishop of Michoacán, Vasco de Quiroga.

Portales Hidalgo

An open-air arched walkway north of the Cathedral on Madero Avenue which provides numerous cafes & restaurants from which to take in the grace and cultural vibe Morelia has to offer.

Plaza San Agustín Eateries

Several inexpensive eateries are located underneath the arches near Plaza San Agustín. They all have ladies’ names such as:   “Las Gueras”, “Carmelita” & “Lupita” to name a few.

Here’s a helpful map outlining the various points of interest mentioned above.

Other Points of Interest

Palacio Del Gobierno
Museo Del Estado
Regional Museum of Michoacán
Museo Del Dulce
Casa De Las Artesanías
El Acueducto
Colegio de San Nicolás

Michoacán Tourism Office

Morelia Tourism Office

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura February 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

This is excellent! I’m in the process of planning a visit to Michoacán – hopefully sometime within the next several weeks to check out the butterfly reserve – and I’ll be visiting Morelia while I’m there as well. 🙂

planetnomad February 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for your comments Laura! How cool that you’re going to see the butterflies….I’ve never been! You have to go to Morelia since you’ll be so close. I’ll be looking out for your post and photos. 🙂

Leslie (Downtown Traveler) February 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm

It looks beautiful! I’d love to visit Mexico 🙂 I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico City and become a telenovela star. I could be “la gringa”!

Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures February 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm

This is a great look at Morelia here! I visited when I was pretty young (like 10) but do remember some of these sites! And of course I remember visiting the butterfly reserve! That’s a mighty impressive site! Morelia is such a beautiful state!

Cara Lopez Lee February 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Mark, those photos are so beautiful that I started looking up flights. Not sure where in Mexico we’ll go this year, but Morelia looks like a great option. I’m a sucker for historic buildings and/or archaeological sights. Of course, being landlocked in Denver, I’m also a sucker for beaches, so I’m keeping my options open.

Michael Hodson February 2, 2011 at 10:07 am

really nice photo essay here — glad I stumbled upon you!

planetnomad February 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks Michael for your visit and comments! Hook’em!

planetnomad February 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thank you so much for your kind words Cara! I share your fondness for historic sights too, but I hear you loud and clear about wanting to possibly hit some beaches. Not sure if you’ve been to Oaxaca yet, but that’s a place where you can combine both very easily. Whatever you guys decide will be fun, I’m sure! Keep us posted on your travel plans! 🙂

planetnomad February 8, 2011 at 11:58 am

Thanks for your visit and comments Aaron! Wow, I wish I had gone to these great places when I was ten! My parents weren’t big travelers, so we made the occasional trip to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas or the border cities. Haven’t been to the butterfly reserve yet, but have heard great things about it….hopefully soon! Thanks again for your visit! Happy & safe travels!

planetnomad February 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for your comments Leslie! You should know that I’m going to keep on bugging you to make that trip to Mexico real soon! Heck, what are you waiting for? Oh, and by the way, I can totally see that novela with you as the lead…love the title…LOL! 🙂

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