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PATZCUARO

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PATZCUARO

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In pre-Hispanic times, Patzcuaro was the recreational land of the Purepacha nobility. Its beautiful prairies, lakes, rivers and mountains, seduced the monarchs of those times for they were an invitation to solace, and to a serene and august contemplation of its magical surroundings.

Many things changed since then on these lands. Other gods are venerated, a different language is spoken and even the noble exist no more; however, Patzcuaro keeps its prettiness intact, its inspiring charm, which makes it worthy of the title of "Michoacán Eden".

On this small corner in Mexico, travellers will enjoy peaceful walks along pitted streets that make their way between buildings of the XVI century; will sail in the waters of the Patzcuaro Lake and discover its rosary of inhabited islands; and will sense the strength on its formidable archaeological remains.

On your visit to Patzcuaro, at 2137 metres above sea level, and 53 kilometres away from Morelia, the capital of the State of Michoacán, you can sightsee the following places:
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    In the City

    -Vasco de Quiroga Plaza: It is one of the most beautiful plazas and at the same time one of the most singular in the Spanish America. Its beautifulness is explained on its neat design and on the exaggerated majesty of its old colonial houses, which complete this urban space; while its peculiarity resides on the absence of buildings of religious nature, abundant during the colonial period.
    It is Patzcuaro's core and stands out thanks to the greenness of its ash trees and the prettiness of its round fountain, surrounding the statue of bishop Vasco de Quiroga, benefactor of the City and a pious man who had consecrated his life to the defence of the native Purepachas or Tarascos.

    -Huitziméngari Palace: A sober residence that might have belonged to prince Antonio de Huitziméngari, son of the last Purepacha ruler and godson of viceroy of The New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza.
    When crossing its threshold you will be amazed by the contrast between the rude and archaic features of its architecture and the fantastic colourfulness of the flowers that embellish its patio, flanked by archways under which different handcrafted products are exhibited.

    -Basilica of Our Lady of Health (Nuestra Señora de la Salud): Due to its importance and magnitude, it was the Cathedral's seat in the State of Michoacán until 1950. The venerated image of Our lady of Health, made with paste of corn cane and orchid honey in the XVI century, is inside.
    With a plain façade and scarce ornamentation, it was built over a pre-Hispanic ceremonial centre, commissioned by the first bishop in Michoacán, Vasco de Quiroga, whose remains rest in the temple.
    The basilica is well attended throughout the year, especially on the 8th day of every month, when hundreds of devotees come to pray and ask for protection to the regional patron.
    It is located on Buenavista Avenue, a few blocks away from the city centre.

    -House of the 11 Patios: It is a convent compound dating back to 1742, and the only one of the Dominican order in Patzcuaro; it hosted the sisters of Santa Catarina de Sena.
    In the oldest part of this great precinct, there is a precious water fountain that stands out, along with the baroque portal on one of its bathrooms, a most singular detail in those times.
    Today it is a colourful fair of artisans in which a great variety of traditional products are made, exhibited and sold.
    It is located on N° 2 Madrigal Los Altos Street.

    -Temple and School of the Company of Jesus: It was built over a pre-Hispanic ceremonial centre. It is of baroque style and dates back to the XVI century, being one of the oldest in the City. It was built by the priests of the Company of Jesus, which was installed in Michoacán thanks to the efforts of bishop Vasco de Quiroga.
    The compound has a beautiful patio, and the ampleness of its spaces generates an agreeable sense of calmness. One of its peculiarities is the "punished" clock of its belfry, called like this because its bell does not ring at noon.
    It is said that the machinery was brought from Spain by express mandate of king Charles V, who wanted to get rid of it for having shown an ingrate hour for the crown.
    It is also affirmed that the clock "remained silent" when an unfortunate young lady got in the way between the pendulum and the bell to prevent it from tolling at noon, the time on which his lover was to be executed. The tragedy might have happened in Spain.
    In the XVI century the school's installations (the second of the Jesuits in Mexico) suffered major damages due to a fire. The priests managed to restore it with the committed collaboration of the locals, keeping the architectonic characteristics proper of their order.
    It is the current seat of the House of Culture. It is located on the corner of Alcantarillas and Arciga streets.

    -Museum of Art and Popular Industries: It is the first of its gender. It has 10 splendid rooms with works created by the artisans of Michoacán. Amongst its treasures the peribana (a one piece tray of the XVII century) stands out, along with several canvases with religious subjects, a Christ made of corn cane and flashy masks.
    The rooms of the museum were the classrooms of the old Seminary of Saint Nicholas, the first in Spanish America. It was founded in 1540 by bishop Vasco de Quiroga, and this institution not only formed the future priests of The New Spain, but also taught the natives the basics (read and write) and labour instruction.
    It is located on the corner of Enseñanza and Alcantarillas Streets, unnumbered.

    -The Tabernacle: A baroque edifice with stonewalls and high vaults, neoclassical altarpieces save one in the Spanish style of Churriguera, several oil paintings, and a singular lower atrium with a beautiful archway and high walls; these are some of the characteristics of this temple, built between 1693 and 1695. The Tabernacle was the sanctuary of the venerated image of Our Lady of Health until 1924.
    It is located on the corner of Lerín and Portugal Streets.

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