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Halfway between Mexico City and Guadalajara, medium-sized Morelia had a different name -- Valladolid -- when it was founded in 1541. Settled by Spanish nobility, the carefully planned city soon filled with architectural acmes such as its centerpiece Catedral. It wasn't until 1828 that the town was renamed in honor of its heroic native son, José María Morelos y Pavón, the priest turned revolutionary who took up where Miguel Hidalgo left off in the fight for Mexican Independence.

Today, reminders of Morelos pop up throughout the still grand colonial center (a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991), which is the main tourist draw. But this city has charm beyond its beautiful historical architecture. Morelia is dappled with romance and ephemeral pleasures, which may be why tourism is such big business here. (The city is also a handy starting point to see Michoac√°n's Monarch butterfly migration.)

Eating is a high-priority pursuit, from haute cuisine in fine restaurants to spicy, savory and sweet street food. Morelia is known for its fruity gazpacho (try Gaspachos la Cerrada, on Cerrada de San Agustín). The city also doles out creamy candy and elaborate sugar confections (browse the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías on Gómez Farías). And you can get a heavenly "nieve de pasta" ice cream just about anywhere.

Morelia also woos visitors with international cinema and music festivals. Live music is ubiquitous, from the pipes and guitars of the itinerant performers to the full-blown orchestras plunked down in city plazas. Museums, restaurants and cathedrals regularly host musicians, many classically trained at the city's own conservatory; others come from afar to play the city's antique church organs.

And then there are the sidewalk cafés on Plaza de Armas for indolent lounging and the sidewalk cafés at the Jardín de las Roses for sunny or starlit trysts. There's even a famous crooked little street with steps just made for tripping a lover into the arms of his/her beloved: "El Callejón del Romance" (the entrance is on Avenida Madero Oriente, just east of Plaza Villalongin).

Visitors will find pleasures in all price ranges, and that includes lodging in restored colonial houses. The city's ambitious plan to restore and maintain colonial buildings is why so much of the downtown looks so good. Of course, not all the town is kept ship-shape for the inspection of tourists, and that is clear once you venture several blocks in any direction from the Catedral. But it is worthwhile to go east along Avenida Madero Oriente to the Plaza Villalongin, where the fertility-themed fountain called "Fuente de las Tarascas" crowns a traffic island and the Avenida Acueducto begins. This aqueduct-lined lane leads to the Bosque Cuauhtémoc (park, children's fun fair, museums) and Plaza Morelos, where you'll find the gaudy but gorgeous 18th-century Santuario de Guadalupe.


Other places nearby Morelia: Pre-Colombian Ruins of Xochicalco, Cuernavaca, Guanajuato, Puebla, Tlaxcala De Xicohtencatl, Cholula and Tepotzlan.

Things to do in Morelia

Morelos Sites In Morelia

138779 Morelia was originally called Valladolid, before it was renamed in 1828 in honor of the revolutionary war hero José María Morelos y Pavón, who was born in town on Sept. 30, 1765, and whose ...
Morelia, Mexico


138783 Smack in the middle of downtown, Morelia's Catedral gets impressively shot up with fireworks every Saturday at 9 p.m. during an odd, long-on-talk illumination display. The rest of the time, the ...
Historical Building
Morelia, Mexico

Casa De Las Artesanías

138784 Morelia's Iglesia and ex-Convento de San Francisco is a massive Plateresque complex entrenched on the east side of the broad, bird-friendly Plaza Valladolid. Work on the buildings began in 1531, ...
Morelia, Mexico

Museo Del Estado (state Museum)

138785The eclectic archaeological-anthropological collection of the Museo del Estado is housed in an 18th-century house replete with courtyards and odd little rooms full of historical Michoac√°n ...
Morelia, Mexico
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