Things to do in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan

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Music, art, gastronomy, and unique architecture are some of the reasons that make the City of Morelia an ideal vacation destination.

The capital of Michoacán, formerly called Valladolid, is one of the most exciting cities in the country, possessing many of the greatest cultural riches in Mexican history.

Morelia is located in the Guayangareo Valley at an average height of 1,920 meters above sea level.

The historic center of Morelia has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1991. Morelia is a city divided in time, with the gleaming central stain of pink stone that forms elaborate baroque architecture and classic buildings.

From museums and places of study to shops, restaurants, and bars that are merged in time, highlighting the difference of centuries between the colonial balconies and the traffic on the streets.

Moving away from the center is a sign of modern development in view of transforming Morelia towards its 500th anniversary.

Morelia offers a lot of places of interest, such as museums, churches, convents, squares, and parks.

In addition, Morelia also has a lot of bars, shops, parks, and shopping malls that provide an experience full of cultural, natural, and urban riches.

It is advisable to spend at least two full days in the city.

Squares (Plazas) in Morelia

Plaza de Armas – Main Square

Plaza de Armas is also called Plaza de Los Mártires, in the 16th century when it was designed as Plaza Mayor by Juan Ponce. Since the 17th century, it was used as a place of public punishment.

In 1843 it became a market and commercial center. During the 20th century, it has undergone different modifications, it is currently used as a space for celebrations and religious, civil, mass, sports, etc events.

It is a square full of plants, trees, and benches, dominated in the center by a bandstand, built in 1887.

Plaza Morelos – Morelos Square

Plaza Morelos, located where part of the convent complex of the Dieguinos friars used to be, later became Alameda. On May 2, 1913, the sculpture was inaugurated, from that moment the square was renamed Plaza Morelos, honoring the insurgent José María Morelos y Pavón.

This is a public square, it has a rectangular shape with quarry paving, a garden area, benches, lampposts and there is the Equestrian Statue of the Patriot Morelos.

The sculpture is made of bronze and placed on a stone pedestal, it was the work of the Italian sculptor, Giuseppe Inghilleri, this was the one who won the contest for the construction of the monument.

Plaza de la Reforma Agraria – Agrarian Reform Square

The Plaza de la Reforma Agraria is located just in front of the Temple of San José. The Plaza de la Reforma Agraria better known as Plaza de San José is a garden area with plants and trees, being dominated in the center by a fountain.

Cathedral, Temples, ex-Convents and Sanctuary in Morelia

The Cathedral of Morelia

The Cathedral of Morelia, a religious temple that began to be built in the 17th century, between the years 1660-1744, took almost a century to be finished, by the architect Vicenzo Barrochio, better known as Vicente Barroso de la Escayola (Italian architect).

Vicenzo Barrochio died before finishing the Cathedral, his disciples were the ones who finished it.

The Cathedral is in the New Spain baroque style and the interior is neoclassical, sculpted in pink stonework, with a Latin cross floor plan with five naves and a transept.

It has two twin towers 66.8 meters high, in a baroque style, on which two crosses stand, it also has two domes.

It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Morelia. Of its religious images, we can highlight the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is the Patron Saint of the city, and the Lord of the Sacristy (Christ made of corn cane paste).

It has a churrigueresque-style “San Gregorio Magno” tubular organ, with 4,600 flutes, made in Germany in the 20th century, it has become the second largest in Mexico.

Templo de la Merced – Temple of Mercy

The Temple of Mercy, the Order of Our Lady of Mercy and Rescue, “redemption of the captives” or “Mercedarians” arrived in the last decade of the 16th century and in Valladolid in the year 1604.

The convent was completed in the eighteenth century.

The church has a single nave, the baroque style has plateresque and churrigueresque elements, the vaults are lunettes, it has an octagonal drum dome, this was added in the 18th century, the main façade is in the Churrigueresque style.

Currently, the monastery, in its cloisters, is now the classrooms of a school.

Templo de San Agustín – San Agustín Temple

The Temple of San Agustín is considered one of the first buildings that were built in Valladolid (now Morelia) in the 16th century.

The temple has a Baroque-style façade, the work of the indigenous people of the region, the main altarpiece, and the sides are works of the architect Francisco Eduardo Tres Guerras.

The Virgen del Socorro is venerated in the temple. The former convent is located next to the temple.

Templo de la Cruz – Temple of the Cross

The Temple of the Cross was built between 1680 and 1690 by the order of Father Nicolás de la Serna. Since 1920, the missionaries of the Holy Spirit have been at the forefront of the church.

The temple had a large number of works of art, many of which have disappeared due to looting and renovations.

Today it presents an eclectic style.

Templo de las Monjas – Temple of the Nuns

The Temple of the Nuns, the church, and the convent that was built between 1729 and 1737.

In 1730 it was occupied by the nuns from the convent of Santa Catalina de Siena, they remained there until 1863.

Although the church is dedicated to Santa Catarina, it is commonly known as the temple of the nuns. It is striking for the double cover with the images of Santa Catalina and Santo Domingo and its dome.

The old convent today is occupied by the Federal Palace.

Templo de San José – San Jose Temple

The Temple of San José’s original building was a small chapel ordered to be built by Bishop Calatayud.

Later, the church was built at the beginning of the 18th century, in a baroque style, it has a single nave and an octagonal drum dome, it contains paintings de Villalpando, neoclassical altarpieces, furniture, and stained glass windows from the 18th century.

The interior was remodeled between 1875 and 1876, its current interior style being neoclassical.

In 1945 the towers were built. On June 12, 1945, the parish temple was consecrated in honor of San José.

Templo y ex-Convento de las Capuchinas

The Temple and ex-convent of the Capuchinas, in the beginning, was a small chapel, where the image of the Virgin Cosamaloapan was venerated.

In 1734 the construction of a convent began to house the sisters of Santa Clara de Asís, a few years later, it was occupied by daughters of wealthy people from the area and daughters of the prominent indigenous people of Michoacán.

In the year 1901, the convent was torn down and a building was built to be used as government offices. Only the church remains standing, in front of it is the Plazuela Vasco de Quiroga, more popularly known as the Jardín de las Capuchinas.

Temple and former convent of Carmen

The Temple and ex-Convent of Carmen began to be built at the end of the 16th century, in 1593 and was finished in 1619.

The temple belonged to the Discalced Carmelites. The church has a Herrerian-style façade with baroque touches, with a Latin cross plan.

Adaptation work was carried out in the monastery between 1974 and 1979, to condition it as the House of Culture of Morelia and Offices of the Michoacan Institute of Culture, with an artistic workshop, use for cultural events, a mask museum, and a theater.

Ex-Convento de San Francisco (House of Crafts)

The Ex-convent of San Francisco (House of Crafts), the temple was dedicated to San Buenaventura, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, to the south of the temple.

In the convent, of which the cloister with a striking archway is still preserved, in this Former convent, the Franciscan friar Vicente de Santa María was diocesan in the year of the Valladolid conspiracy.

The House of Crafts of Michoacán, which was founded in 1972, has the function of preserving and disseminating the popular craft art of the different sociocultural regions of Michoacán, there you will see a small Michoacán Museum of Crafts and a Cooperative Market, with sales of pottery, wood, vegetable fibers, textiles, metals, etc.

Sanctuary of Guadalupe and ex-Convent of San Diego

The Sanctuary of Guadalupe and ex-Convent of San Diego began to be built in the 18th century, between 1708 and 1716, and was completed in 1716, with a Baroque façade, the interior was decorated by the craftsman Joaquín Orta, in 1915.

The building is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe and belonged to the Franciscan Order of the Dieguinos.

City Hall and Palaces in Morelia

Palacio Municipal – City Hall

The Municipal Palace was built in 1781 to house the tobacco factory that had been in Valladolid since 1765. The place was the scene where the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (priest and revolutionary from New Spain) promulgated the abolition of slavery in 1810.

As of 1824, the building is occupied by the State government, although the factory work continued on the upper floor until the building became the Municipal Palace in 1856.

Currently, it is the seat of the Municipality of Morelia.

Palacio del Gobierno – Government Palace

The Government Palace, a 17th-century palace with a baroque façade, in the past was used as a seminary, and currently houses government offices, the Headquarters of the Executive Power of the State of Michoacán de Ocampo.

Inside you can see a mural showing the history of Morelia, the work of the painter Alfredo Zalce.

Palacio Clavijero – Clavijero Palace

Clavijero Palace from 1660 to 1767 housed the Jesuit school of San Francisco Javier.

Currently, it is the Clavijero Cultural Center, where there are contemporary art exhibition halls and concerts, workshops, courses, activities, festivals, etc. are held.

Museums and historical buildings in Morelia

Museum of Contemporary Art Alfredo Zalce

The Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art is located in a building from the end of the 19th century. The museum opened to the public on September 30, 1971, being called the Contemporary Art Gallery.

In 1972 it was renamed the Museum of Contemporary Art and since 1993 its name is the Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art, honoring Alfredo Zalce, a Michoacan artist (Mexican plastic artist, who won the 2001 National Prize for Science and Arts).

The building was remodeled between 1998 and 1999, the last being in 2013.

The museum has a total of eight rooms, a permanent one dedicated to the painter Alfredo Zalce, and the remaining seven are rooms for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, both nationally and internationally.

Museum of Colonial Art

The Museum of Colonial Art (MAC) is housed in a baroque-style mansion from the Viceroyalty era.

The museum is dating from the 18th century. It permanently displays a collection of paintings dating from the 18th century in New Spain, using oil on canvas as a technique.

The collection of sculptures showing Christ on the cross, made in polychrome wood carving and the ancient technique of pre-Hispanic origin “corn cane”, maps from the viceregal era, etc.

The museum has a total of five rooms.

The house where José María Anzorena lived, a property built in the 18th century with a strong French influence, was acquired at the end of that same year by José María Anzorena.

In the year 1810, it was here where the decree for the abolition of slavery in New Spain was signed.

The house was restored in 1897, giving it its current appearance.

Since 1922 it has been the seat of the Legislative Palace.

Michoacán Regional Museum

The Michoacan Regional Museum, located in a palace from the end of the 18th century in Morelia baroque style, designer and initial owner Isidro Huarte.

The museum was officially founded on January 30, 1886, and is considered the oldest in the Network of Museums of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

It has twelve permanent exhibition halls: prehistory, colonial times, the 19th century, modern times, the past of Michoacán, a conference room and temporary exhibitions, a library, and a reading room.

Historical Museum of the Judicial Power of Michoacán

The Historical Museum of the Judicial Power of Michoacán was built to be used as the headquarters of the Royal House, later City Hall.

And between 1884 and 1885 modifications were made to its facade carried out by the engineer Guillermo Woodson de Sorinne, giving it a style eclectic. Then it housed the Judicial Power of the State.

Today it is a Museum (it exhibits the history of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Constitution) as well as the Council of the State Judiciary and Archives.

In its rooms are exhibited: Evolution and Development of the Supreme Court of Justice, Iconography of the Judiciary, Evolution, and Development of the STJEM, Documentary Memory of the STJEM, Photo Gallery, Audiovisual and Virtual Toy Library.

On the wall leading up to the stairs, we saw the mural “Morelos y la Justicia” (1976) by Agustín Cárdenas.

Museum of the Historical Archive House of Morelos

The Casa de Morelos Historical Archive Museum is located in a building built in 1758 and inhabited by the insurgent hero José María Morelos.

In 1933 the building was declared a National Monument, in 1939 it was restored to house the Morelos Memorial Museum.

The museum has a total of nine permanent rooms, with furniture from the colonial era, documents, photographs, paintings, conventual books, and historical archives.

Birthplace (home) of José María Morelos

This place is where José María Teclo Morelos Pérez y Pavón, better known as José María Morelos, the hero of the Independence of Mexico, was born on September 30, 1765.

The building dates from the 17th century, at first it was baroque in style with white walls, in 1888 it was rebuilt giving it the current neoclassical style, built in a single nave with two gardens.

In 1930 the building was declared a National Monument.

In 1965, it opened as a Museum to José María Morelos, today it is a Cultural venue, where you can see the works of the hero, his origins, participation in the War of Independence, process, and death.

It also has a library with more than twenty-three thousand volumes with the life and work of Morelos, the history of Mexico, an audiovisual room, and a movie projector.

In the patio there is a replica of the bell of Dolores, the one that the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang at dawn on September 16, 1810, to start the Mexican Independence movement.

Old Hospital of the Juaninos

At first on this site was the Episcopal House, at the beginning of the 18th century the bishop of Michoacán, Juan Ortega y Montañéz, gave this house the condition and the use of a Royal hospital.

In 1794 the nuns of San Juan de Dios arrived here.

In 1866 this place became a hotel, at first called Hotel Oseguera, in 1886 the building was remodeled by engineer Guillermo Wodon de Sorinne, to become the Hotel Los Juaninos, and to this day shops are housed on the ground floor.

Public Library of the Michoacan University

The Public Library of the Universidad Michoacana was founded by Rafael Carrillo, Governor of the State, on September 16, 1874. It is housed in what was the old temple of the Society of Jesus, from the 16th century. It houses 22901 volumes.

Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo

The Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, founded in 1540 in Pátzcuaro, in 1580 became the seat and capital of the bishopric of Michoacán de Pátzcuaro moved to Valladolid (now Morelia), the Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo, merged with the Colegio de San Miguel de Guayangareo.

In 1630 the house where the school was located was rebuilt, the works were carried out by master Juan de Morelia and the façade by Sebastián Guedea.

In 1810, with the National Independence movement, the government closed the school and it was used as a jail and military barracks.

In 1845 some restoration work began on the building, later in 1847 the governor of Michoacán, Melchor Ocampo, reopened the school, but yes, being the property of the State with a lay character, received the name of Colegio Primitivo and Nacional de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, commemorating Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (student, professor, and rector of the institution).

In 1863 it was closed again until 1867, it was rebuilt again with the civil school project carried out between 1868 and 1885 by Guillermo Woodon de Sorinne (Belgian engineer) beginning in 1868 and ending in 1887, the current appearance dates from that era.

That same year, President Porfirio Díaz gave the school the sculpture of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, since then it is in the center of the main patio, the monument is the work of the sculptor Primitivo Miranda and the pedestal of the engineer Gustavo Roth.

In 1917, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo was founded.

Since 1930 the College building has been declared a National Monument.

On the side walls of the second floor of the building, in 1932 two murals were painted “The Defense of Sovereignty” and the other “The Constitution of Apatzingan”, the work of the artist Fermín Revueltas.

Today the school hosts a school dependent on the Universidad Michoacana.

Sweets and craft markets in Morelia

Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías – Sweets and Crafts Market

The Sweets and Crafts Market also called “Valentín Gómez Farías” was created on September 14, 1968, in part of what was the Jesuit College, today Clavijero Palace.

In the market, you can find a wide variety of regional sweets made by hand. It also has a craft area.

Mercado de Antojitos – Snack Market

The Antojitos Market, in 2014 was completely remodeled giving it a new look and providing it with cleanliness and order, it was inaugurated on November 9, 2014.

It is an ideal place to try different dishes of Michoacan gastronomy, at affordable prices.

Parks and green areas in Morelia

Jardín de Villalongín – Villalongin Garden

The Villalongín Garden’s construction began in 1788 at the initiative of Fray Antonio de San Miguel. At the first, the garden was called Plazuela de las Ánimas, later its name was changed to Villalongín Garden, in honor of the insurgent Manuel Villalongín.

In its center, there is a huge fountain, which previously was placed for almost a century in the center of the Plaza de Armas, and in 1889 was moved to the Villalongín Garden.

This is a bronze statue of the mythological goddess Flora (goddess of flowers and gardens).

Currently, there are also some letters placed with the name of the city “Morelia”.

Bosque Cuauhtémoc – Cuauhtemoc Forest

The Cuauhtémoc Forest is the largest green space in the city, it contains the Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of History, an orchid garden, a children’s play area, etc. It is very frequented by both locals and tourists.

It is always very crowded.

Another points of interest in Morelia

Fuente Las Tarascas – Tarascas Fountain

The fountain Las Tarascas was designed in 1931 by the artist Antonio Silva Díaz and the sculptor Benigno Lara.

This bronze fountain is the sculptural group, of naked women, making reference to Atzimba, Tzetzangari, and Eréndira (indigenous princesses). The fountain is a replica of the original, which disappeared in 1940.

The current one is the work of José Luis Padilla Retana, it was inaugurated on May 18, 1984.

Acueducto de Morelia – Morelia Aqueduct

The Morelia Aqueduct dates from the 18th century between 1785 and 1788. The aqueduct was in operation until 1910.

The Morelia Aqueduct is considered the most important civil construction in the city.

It is 1,7000 meters long, and has 253 arches, with a height of almost 8 meters, in its highest part.

Since 1991 it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1997 it was completely restored and stage lighting was added.

Calzada Fray Antonio de San Miguel

The Calzada Fray Antonio de San Miguel is a pedestrian walkway made of stone, it goes from the Sanctuary of Guadalupe to the Fuente de las Tarascas. This pedestrian walkway was built in 1732 by Bishop Manuel José Escalona y Calatayud.

Along the road, you can see mansions of colonial architecture.

How to get to Morelia?

Flights & Transfers in and from Morelia

By plane arriving at the General Francisco Mújica International Airport, which is about 27 km north of the city of Morelia, here national and some international flights arrive from cities in the United States.

By bus, they arrive from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Pátzcuaro, etc. Renting a car or hiring an excursion.


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