Morelia's urban history begins on May the 18th of 1541, though in those times the City founded by viceroy Antonio de Mendoza was named Guayangareo, a name in use until 1787, when under a melancholy attack for their motherland, the Iberians decided to name it Valladolid; but the homesickness was cut from the very roots in 1828, when Mexico was already an independent nation.
The fact is that it was unconceivable that the land that saw the birth of one of its top forefathers on the struggle for liberation, bore the name of a Spanish city; it is then that the authorities decided to call it Morelia, in memory of José María Morelos y Pavón, most dear disciple of priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the father of Mexican independence.
Guayangareo was the third city the Spaniards founded in Michoacán (the first one was Tzintzuntzan and the second Pátzcuaro), but due to its rapid growth it was named capital of the State in 1580, a condition it keeps till today, as it also keeps its well defined urban layout, with cosy streets always leading to places plethoric of past.
Take a walk by the Historic Centre, visit palaces and temples, feel that the past is around the corner, a past that you revive despite the cars and the people attired with jeans and jackets. And Morelia is again Guayangareo when we visit the Cathedral with its enormous belfries nearly 70 metres high, a work started in 1660; and Morelia is again Valladolid when we visit the house of José María Morelos y Pavón (1765 - 1815).
And the feeling is there again at the Palace of Government, an emblematic construction Morelia's style, and at the Clavijero Palace, testimony of the passing of the Jesuits by Michoacán; at the Franciscan Convent, the first Spanish edification and the main centre of evangelisation, or at the Temple and Convent of San Agustin, with its impacting classical façade.
Not everything is past in Morelia
though. The capital
of Michoacán is recognised as a land of magnificent artisans, for
the wise hands of the descendants of the Purépechas or Tarascas,
handcraft masks, ceramics, copper works, and high quality hats with
a unique style that blends the indigenous with the Spanish.
A visit would not be completed if travellers do not take their uneasiness to the Agustin Convent of Santa Maria Magdalena, and to the archaeological zone of Tres Cerritos, in the Town of Cuitzeo (34 kilometres to the north), or to the huge Pátzcuaro Lake with its rosary of inhabited islands and the Tarasca vestiges of Ihuatzio, Tingambato and Tzintzuntzan.
Another space of singular interest is the Sanctuary of the Monarch Butterfly (184 kilometres east of Morelia), an oyamel wood at 3200 metres above sea level that is the refuge and reproduction place of the flashy monarch butterfly, from November to March. It is an amazing lepidopteron that migrates from Canada and the north of the United States on a titanic 4800-kilometre journey.
History, culture and nature, key words for globetrotters who arrive
, located 303 kilometres away from the
City of Mexico. It is a City with a kind gesture and a benign weather
(the annual average is of 23 degrees Celsius), in which you will
never cease to be amazed.