What to see in Mexico

Morelia

Tourist attractions Morelia

If your travel to central Mexico, you cannot miss a visit to Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state. One of the best-preserved colonial cities in the country, its UNESCO protected historic center invites you to step back in time and admire elegant 17th and 18th-century architecture. Nestled amongst the breathtaking scenery of the Guayangareo Valley, a vacation to Morelia is the chance to encounter authentic Mexican culture and stroll through a living museum of Mexican heritage. 

Before the Spanish arrived, the area in which Morelia now stands was inhabited by the Purépecha and Matlatzinca peoples. During the colonial era, a settlement was built here and the city, known then as Valladolid, rivalled nearby Patzcuaro for dominance over the state of Michoacan. Soon, it was named the state capital and its marvellous Spanish Renaissance and Baroque style buildings became famous for their pink appearance, a result of the colored Cantera stone used to craft the city. 

If you visit Morelia you'll find that not much has changed in this historic city. Over 200 well-preserved colonial-era buildings border the same grid-lined streets planned by the Spanish all those centuries ago. 

Despite being a large city, Morelia is often overlooked by international tourists. Therefore, it retains much of its original charm and has an ‘off-the-beaten-path’ feel to it. Nevertheless, if you do travel to Morelia, you’ll be rewarded with inspiring historic sights, excellent museums and a diverse restaurant scene. Often included as part of a cultural tour of Mexico, Morelia is around a four-hour drive from either Mexico City or Guadalajara. 

Things to see in Morelia

If you plan a tour of Morelia, you’ll most likely begin in the heart of the historic center. Around here, everything feels as if it should belong in a museum! Elegant pink stone buildings, cobblestone streets and spacious plazas are the backdrops for daily life in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The great thing is that many of the most important sights are within walking distance of each other, making visiting Morelia accessible and easy. One of the most emblematic things to see in Morelia is its incredible 17th-century cathedral. It took 84 years to complete this magnificent place of worship, and it’s considered an excellent example of Baroque architecture. Its baby-pink facade is endlessly eye-catching, especially against the blue skies of central Mexico. Inside, visitors can admire what was once the largest organ in the Western Hemisphere as well as a silver baptism font and an elaborate 18th-century altarpiece

After exploring the cathedral and its surroundings, one of the best things to do in Morelia is to stroll beside the famous Aqueduct, of such importance to Mexican culture that it even appears on the back of all 50-pesos bills! Stretching for over a mile across the city, Morelia Aqueduct was originally built during a drought to bring drinking water into the city. Nowadays, its beautiful stone arches look particularly striking at night, when they are illuminated by gentle uplighting.

For a taste of local culture, be sure to visit one of Morelia’s numerous markets. For the best sweet treats in the city, you can’t miss out on the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanias, where you can combine your love of homemade candies and handmade crafts! 

Finally, if you want to learn more about the history of Mexico, be sure to pay a visit to Casa Natal de Morelos, the former home of José María Morelos. Morelos was a Catholic priest and revolutionary leader of the Mexican War of Independence movement. Considered a national hero, the museum is one of the most popular sights in the city and well worth a visit for anyone looking to know more about the events that shaped modern-day Morelia.

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