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Introduction

One of the oldest cities in New Spain, and the present capital of Michoacan state, Morelia is famous for its perfectly preserved colonial centre. In fact, the heart of the city is so evocative it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. It is also a very lively place thanks to it's own university and it's burgeoning artistic community. Throughout the year cultural events, festivals and free concerts make this a great place to experience an urbane Mexican city off the radar of foreign tourists. The lack of tourists still means there is plenty to do and see in Morelia and it's possible to spend several days (or more) exploring this stunning city.

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Sights and Activities

  • Main Cathedral - Plaza de Armas - Located in the very heart of Morelia, the main cathedral is a very ornate affair combining several architectural styles inside and out. The cathedral really comes to life each evening as the entire facade is lit up. Inside, visitors will find a still functioning organ with over 4,000 pipes as well as well as a gold crown from Spain's 16th century King Felipe II.
  • Fuente Las Tarascas - Plaza Villlalongin - A boisterous and bawdy public fountain featuring 3 Tarascan women holding bunches of fruit makes for an obvious landmark and is the preferred meeting place for young denizens of Morelia.
  • El Acueducto - Av. Acueducto - Morelia's ancient aqueduct lives on. Construction began around 1785 and featured 250 arches. Today, the original structure is lit at night and runs along Avenida Acueducto, lined with shops and restaurants. This route makes for a pleasant stroll in the evening.
  • Santuario de Guadalupe - Plaza Morelos - The typical exterior of this church will not prepare you for the eye-popping interior. Inside, the walls and ceiling are covered in very ornate, uniformly arranged plaster relief flowers that drip with color. All that flair is countered with large paintings throughout the church depicting gruesome scenes of indigenous victims surrendering to Spanish colonizers.
  • Museo del Esatado - Calle Prieto, 76. Hours: 9 am - 8 pm Mon. - Fri. 10 am - 6 pm Sat. & Sun. - This state museum chronicles local history from prehistoric times up to the Spanish conquest. Plenty of stone tools and weapons, pottery, jewelry and religious artifacts are spread out over several levels.
  • Biblioteca Publica De La Universidad Michoacana - Jardin Altamirano, Av. Madero Poniente and Nigromante. Hours: 8 am - 8 pm Mon. - Fri. - The city's university gives visitors a sight to behold as tall shelves of ancient books fill this vast, ornate 16th century library. The interior is capped off with a grand domed ceiling.
  • Plaza de Armas. The heart of the historic center is the cathedral and its surrounding plazas, also known as the Plaza de los Mártires, the Juárez Plaza and the Melchor Ocampo Plaza. This has been remodeled several times since it was designed in the 16th century. It has been renamed several times as well, from “de la Constitución,” “de la República” to the current official name of “de los Mártires” but popularly it retains the name of “Plaza de Armas.” The alternate name, Plaza de los Mártires (Plaza of the Martyrs) is in honor of people like Mariano Matamoros, Guadalupe el Salto and others who were executed here during the Mexican War of Independence and later in 1830 during political unrest.
  • Regional Museum of Michoacán was founded in 1886 and its design was heavily influenced by French ideas of museum design of the time. It is housed in a building that belonged to Emperor Maximilian I, and is of ornate Baroque design. Most of the exhibits are about the history of the region with rooms dedicated to pre-Hispanic artifacts and colonial art. One noted piece is the painting called “Traslado de las Monjas” which is considered to be the finest work produced in Michoacán during the colonial period.
  • Museum of Colonial Art holds a collection of documents, old books, religious ornaments and maps from the colonial period. Its main attraction is its collection of more than 100 figures of Christ done in cornstalk paste. These figures were created by indigenous artists, starting under the direction of Vasco de Quiroga, between the 16th and 19th centuries. There are also paintings done by Miguel Cabrera and José Padilla from the 18th century. The museum is in an old Baroque residence from the 18th century.
  • José María Morelos y Pavón House Museum contains a collection of items from the colonial and early independence periods of Mexico's history, including articles that belonged to Morelos himself. Morelos bought the house in 1802, but did not live there much, especially in the years just before and during the Mexican War of Independence because of his involvement with the movement. In 1933, the house was declared a national monument.
  • Morelos’ Birthplace (Casa Natal de Morelos) is the house where José María Morelos y Pavón was born in 1765. The building is a large mansion with a Neoclassic facade and a Baroque interior. In 1888, the original building was destroyed to build a farmhouse. This is the building that has been restored and turned into a museum in 1964, for the coming bicentennial of Morelos’ birth. The museum contains documents and belongings of Morelos including ones he signed, money he had coined, paintings and a large library.

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Events and Festivals

  • Feria de Morelia - Late April - early May - This is a traditional fair featuring dances, bullfights, artisans, food and fireworks.
  • Festical Internacional de Musica - Middle of November. - Churches, theaters and plazas throughout Morelia become venues for classical music from orchestras to individuals. It has become the largest music festival in Morelia, with private and government sponsors. Concerts include those by chamber orquestras, choirs, ensambles, trios and soloists such as pianist Joanna MacGregor and the Britten Symphony. Each year, a different country is the “special guest,” which in 2009 was the United Kingdom.
  • The International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia (ISOFOM) started in 2017 and has attracted thousands of audience members to its opera galas and concerts. Students come from all over the world to study with the renowned faculty and experience the life in Morelia for three weeks each June. In 2019, the festival presents its first full-length opera Falstaff by Verdi, in the beautiful Teatro Ocampo, as well as a Gala evening in the Palacio Clavijero. The mission of ISOFOM is to bring young up-and-coming performers of opera to the Michoacan audiences and share with them that special art form in landmark locations all across Morelia, at an affordable price.
  • Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia - October. Website: www.moreliafilmfest.com was begun in 2003, and is mostly dedicated to Mexican cinema, showcasing up-and-coming directors and productions. The majority of activities take place in the Cinépolis Morelia Centro, but also includes other theaters, auditoriums and public plazas. All of Mexico's film industry gathers in Morelia for a week in autumn. The international appeal of this festival has grown considerably in the last decade and continues to get bigger every year.
  • Zapata Vive Morelia Festival celebrates the life of Emiliano Zapata with cultural and political activities. The purpose of the event is to promote exhibitions by artistic, cultural and social organizations from the state of Michoacán and other parts of the country. Events are spread out over several days and include ones such as concerts, round tables and information sessions. The event encourages those organizations who work with the lower social classes and are politically left to participate.

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.
  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.
  • Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.

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Weather

Under the Köppen climate classification, Morelia has a Subtropical highland climate, Cwb. With warm-to-hot days and cool nights year round due to its high altitude. Most precipitation falls during the summer rainy season. Average monthly temperatures are between 14 and 22 °C, with maximum temperatures of 38.3 °C in the summer of 1998, and the lowest temperature of -5.2 °C was recorded in January 1985.

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Getting There

By Plane

Morelia International Airport (MLM IATA) is a relatively new, modern airport at the edge of town. There are daily international flights from Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and San José and commuter flights from Guadalajara, Mexico City and Tijuana.

By Car

Morelia is accessible by a modern toll road, and is located equidistant from Guadalajara and Mexico City, is about 3 1/2 hours driving. There are plenty of gas stations along the way with restrooms and food. Be prepared with change/pesos to pay tolls the cost may vary depending of the route you take, from Mexico City is about M$500 (pesos) one way. It is a very scenic trip, to say the least.

By Bus

Deluxe buses serve Morelia from all parts of the Republic, and Morelia's state-of-the-art bus station, located in the northern part of the city. The bus station consists of separate terminals for first-class and second-class buses. It is easy to reach Morelia from either Mexico City or Guadalajara. The bus trip from Guadalajara is about 4 1/2 hours and from Mexico City is 4 hours, depending on the company. You can also reach Morelia from the United States by way of Greyhound.

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Getting Around

Buses, combis and taxis form Morelia’s public transport.

Combis are a good way to see the smaller roads and backstreets of the city. Various destinations are usually indicated on the windshield of these mini-vans. As of November 2011, a ride within the city costs 6 pesos. Get in, grab a handle and sit down before the driver speeds off, and then give your money directly to the driver, or to someone else to pass to the driver for you (you can ask the person “Si no le molesta, por favor”, basically, “thanks, if you don’t mind”). Above your head you will find a buzzer to get out at the next corner, or you can simply ask “en la próxima ezquina, por favor” (next corner please). It is very common for people to greet other passengers when boarding, according to the time of day (“Buenos días”, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches”).

Taxis are also plentiful and inexpensive, operating on zone fares. As elsewhere in Mexico, make sure to determine the price before getting into the taxi.

Driving in the city is not easy, but with patience you can. Drivers use their horns to excess, to prod others and at the numerous blind intersections. The Centro Histórico is plagued by lack of parking. Driving in and around Morelia differs little from driving in any urban area. However, there is an “uno y uno” protocol in place. Drivers are actually quite respectful and obey this “one and one” rule, where - in stark contrast to Mexico City - at an intersection, you do not simply charge into any space larger than 5 cm, but fall into line, with one vehicle at a time from each direction driving through the intersection.

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Eat

  • Tacopolis la Huerta, Calz La Huerta 296, Cosmos, ☎ +52 443 334 5186. This casual spot is in the south end of the city, on La Huerta (the road leading to Patzcuaro). They offer a great range of salsas to accompany your quesadillas, tacos, alambra. Their chipotle and avocado salsas are awesome. The hard-to-find vegetarian alambra is a nice vegg option when you are tired of quesadillas, but theirs, made with mushrooms, peppers, pineapple and optional cheese, is fairly bland. Here they serve flour, not corn, tortillas.
  • Las Fonda de las Mercedes, León Guzmán 47, Centro histórico de Morelia. ☎ +52 443 312 6113. This is one of the most elegant and sophisticated dining rooms in the city. It is dramatic and romantic with an atmosphere of 16th century colonial grace punctuated by 21st century touches. The cuisine is nouveau Mexican, blending traditional elements reminiscent of the pre-Colombian era with international influences to create a fusion that is nothing short of culinary orgasm. You can experience master culinary craftsmanship in this 5-star restaurant for no more money than buying a steak at a national chain.
  • Restaurante La Cabaña de La Calzada, Calz. Juárez 158, Juárez, ☎ +52 443 312 5902. This popular eatery impresses with hand-made flour or corn tortillas. Their red salsa, made with roasted red peppers, is a fantastic addition to their quesadillas con adobera, a firm cheese that is fried on the grill. Ask for a side of fried onions that come with the meat dishes to add to your quesadillas. Tacos starting at M$16, quesadillas starting at M$27.
  • Restaurante Birrieria El Primo, Calle Constituyentes, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Roast goat and kid is served here either in taco form or in a steaming bowl of rich red broth, Guadalajara style. The soup is garnished with onions and cilantro.
  • Cocos De La Costa, Calle Constitución 539, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Excellent seafood dishes done Sinaloense style. Shrimp and octopus ceviche dishes are popular here as well as whole fish prepared zarandeado style.
  • Tacos de Canasta La Mezquita, Dr. José Pilar Ruiz 274, Felícitas del Río, ☎ +52 443 135 7929. Choose flour or corn tortillas filled with expertly grilled meats. Fresh fruit juices made in-house help to wash down the filling antojitos at this friendly neighborhood taco shop.

Local Specialties

The city is one of the most exciting places in Mexico for innovative yet traditionally based cuisine. Avoid chain restaurants in Morelia because the wealth of outstanding restaurants not only offer unique regional flavors found nowhere else in Mexico, they are shockingly affordable for the quality they deliver.Regional dishes unique to Morelia and surrounding Michoacan include:

  • Sopa Tarasca. Smoothly pureed bean soup base spiced with piquant dried chiles and swirled with a touch of slightly soured creme mexicana, it’s a bean soup that will change the way you think of bean soup. Similar to Sopa Azteca.
  • Enchiladas Morelianas Enchiladas in Morelia are nothing like enchiladas in any other part of Mexico. In Morelia, they’re based on chicken and potatoes, but they explode with rich flavor from a slow, deep-seated chile spiciness and deep red color that comes from the careful use of guajilla chile.

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Drink

  • El Barrio, La Corregidora 148, Centro Histórico. Lights, live music, mixed drinks and plenty of cold beer make this happening bar a good choice. Don't expect the place to be open before the later evening hours.
  • El Abrevadero Bar, Manuel Villalongin 32, Centro, ☎ +52 443 313 4507. Sit outside on the patio and enjoy fine views of the aqueduct and the beautiful people strolling past.
  • Oveja Negra Mezcaleria, Calle Curtidores de Teremendo 38, Lomas de Guayangareo, ☎ +52 443 452 0268. More than mezcal is served at this neighborhood bar; expect plenty of cold Tecate beer and Micheladas, too.

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Sleep

  • Hostel Allende, Allende 843, ☎ +52 443 312-2246. Popular hostel with a convenient downtown location. Dorm-style bunks from US$10, private rooms from $15.
  • Hotel Alameda, Av. Madero 113, ☎ +52 443 312-2023. Modern hotel in the heart of colonial downtown Morelia. Clean, safe hotel with an outstanding central location and room rates starting around US$40.
  • Hotel De La Soledad, Ignacio Zaragoza # 90 Col. Centro. Morelia, Michoacan C.P 58000, ☎ +52 443 312-1888, fax: +52 443 312-2111. Located in the Historical Downtown (World Heritage Site by the UNESCO) one block away from the Cathedral - ideally placed for visits to both. Opened in 1752 as a diligence hostel, now a hotel. If you use valet parking, give at least two hours notice to have car returned. No elevator to 2nd floor rooms (built in 1752). Rooms at back of courtyard have less street noise. Sanborns Dept. store adjacent, with 3rd floor dining room.
  • Hotel Virrey de Mendoza, Av. Madero Pte. 310, ☎ +52 443 312-4940. Historical hotel with elegance and old-world charm. Some rooms may be loud or small owing to its historical authenticity. Rooms are comfortably furnished and service is always outstanding. Live piano music in the lounge, outdoor dining in one of Morelia's colonial portals.
  • Los Juaninos, Morelos Sur 39, ☎ +52 443 312-0036. Upscale boutique hotel with graceful furnishings, unbeatable centro location and exquisite rooftop dining room.
  • Villa Montanas, Patzimba 201, ☎ +52 443 314-0231. Elegantly rustic mountain lodge featuring rough hewn wood beams and fireplaces in the rooms.not to mention outstanding nighttime views of the city from its perch on a mountain overlooking the city below.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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This is version 15. Last edited at 22:52 on May 13, 19 by road to roam. 2 articles link to this page.

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