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(Uaianarhio in Purepecha)
Ciudad de Mechuacán (1541-1545)
Valladolid (1545-1828)
—  City  —
Cathedral of Morelia
Nickname(s): City of Pink (Cantera) Stone, the City of Open Doors, The Rose of the Winds, The Garden of New Spain and Morelia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Morelia is located in Mexico
Coordinates: 19°46′06″N 101°11′22″W / 19.76833°N 101.18944°W / 19.76833; -101.18944Coordinates: 19°46′06″N 101°11′22″W / 19.76833°N 101.18944°W / 19.76833; -101.18944
Country Mexico
State Michoacán
Municipality Morelia
Founded 1541
Municipal Status 1831
Founder Antonio de Mendoza
Named for José María Morelos y Pavón
 - Municipal President Fausto Vallejo Figueroa (PRI) 2008-2011
Elevation 1,921 m (6,302 ft)
Population (2005)Municipality
 - Total 684,145
 - Seat 608,049
Time zone UTC-6
Postal code 58000
Area code(s) 443
Demonym Moreliano/a
Historic Centre of Morelia*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party  Mexico
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Reference 585
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1991  (15th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Morelia is a city and municipality located in the north central part of the state of Michoacán in central Mexico.[1] The city is located in the Guayangareo Valley and is the capital of the state. The main pre-Hispanic cultures here were the P'urhépecha and the Matlatzinca, but no major cities were founded in the valley during this time. The Spanish took control of the area in the 1520s. The Spanish under Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza founded a settlement here in 1541 with the name of Valladolid, which became rival to the nearby city of Pátzcuaro for dominance in Michoacán. In 1580, this rivalry ended in Valladolid’s favor and it became the capital of the colonial province. After the Mexican War of Independence, the city was renamed Morelia in honor of José María Morelos y Pavón, who is from here. In 1991, the city was declared a World Heritage Site for its well preserved colonial buildings and layout of the historic center.[2]



Human settlements in the Guayangareo Valley in which Morelia is located have been dated back as far as the 7th century. Artifacts found here have shown Teotihuacán culture influence on early cultures in this area. In the 12th century, the Tarascos or the P'urhépecha arrived in the valley. They dominated it politically for the rest of the pre-Hispanic period but did not build any major settlements here. Between the 12th and the 15th century, Matlatzincas moved into the area with permission of the Tarascos, who were based around nearby Pátzcuaro Lake. The main Matlatzinca settlement was where Júarez Plaza in the city is today.[2][3]

The Spanish pushed into the Guayangareo Valley between 1525 and 1526, headed by Gonzalo Gómez. In the 1530s, the area was evangelized by Franciscans such as Juan de San Miguel and Antonio de Lisboa.[2]

What would become the city of Morelia was founded by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and a number of encomenderos in 1541, who first named it Nueva Ciudad de Mechuacan (New City of Michoacán). The newly founded settlement grew fast, prompting Vasco de Quiroga to go to Spain and procure for rival settlement Pátzcuaro the title of city and a seal, to prevent “new city” from becoming the capital of Michoacán. The action also required that the new settlement change its name to Guayangareo.[1] In 1545, Guayangareo gained city status from Charles V in 1545 with the name of Valladolid, after the hometown of Antonio de Mendoza.[3] This was part of a power struggle between Antonio de Mendoza and Vasco de Quiroga over the province of Michoacán. During Quiroga’s lifetime, he managed to keep political and ecclesiastical power in Pátzcuaro despite the viceroy’s and encomenderos’ objections. However, Quiroga died in 1578. By 1580, both political and religious authority had been transferred to the city of Valladolid, moving the College of San Nicolás, which Vasco founded and laying the groundwork for establishing a new cathedral for the province.[2]


The 17th century saw growth for Valladolid, with the construction of the cathedral and aqueduct. The cathedral was begun in 1640 (finished in 1744) and the aqueduct in 1657.[2] During the 17th century, many of the city’s large churches and monasteries were established, such as the monasteries of San Francisco, San Agustin, El Carmen and La Merced as well as the convents of Las Rocas, Las Monjas and Capuchinas. Churches include La Compañía, San Juan and La Cruz, but the most important structure built during this time period was the Cathedral. The location of this cathedral defined the composition and development of the city from then on.[4]

At the end of the colonial period, Valladolid was a small city with about 20,000 inhabitants. It was also an educational center with four important schools such as the College of San Nicolás. These schools would turn out scholars such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos y Pavón, who were sympathetic to the new republican ideas coming out of post-revolution France and United States.[1][4] Demonstrations against Spanish rule had been occurring in the town in 1809, culminating in the Conspiracy of 1809. This plot was discovered, with the main conspirators were arrested and sent to other parts of New Spain, which helped to spread republican ideas.[3]

One year later, after forming his army in Guanajuato state, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla arrived and took over the city, proclaiming the end of slavery in Mexico. The city was taken back by royalist forces soon after. Morelos came here to try and dislodge the royalists but was defeated by Agustín de Iturbide. Another prominent figure in the war, Mariano Matamoros was shot by firing squad on the city’s main square in 1814. The city remained in royalist hands until 1821, Iturbide, who had switch sides, and Vicente Guerrero entered the city with the Trigarante Army.[2][3]

In 1828, the newly created state of Michoacán changed the name of the city from Valladolid to Morelia, in honor of José María Morelos y Pavón. This is the official name it retains today, although its P'urhépecha name remains Uaianarhio and has had nicknames such as City of Pink (Cantera) Stone, the City of Open Doors, The Rose of the Winds, The Garden of New Spain and religiously as Morelia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[3] The city became a municipality in 1831.[2]

Jardin de las rosas garden and park

The later 19th century is marked by struggles between liberal and conservatives forces in Mexico. During the Revolution of Ayutla, the city was taken by rebel forces under Epitafio Huerta and General García Pueblita, but was taken back in 1855 by forces under Antonio López de Santa Anna. Rebels attacked Santa Anna’s troops again a year later.[3] French troops imposing imperial rule entered the city in 1863, with the republican forces moving capital of Michoacán to Uruapan while conservative families in Morelia pledged support for emperor Maximilian I, who then visited the city. In 1867, the city is taken by republican general Nicolás de Régules and the capital of Michoacán returned to Morelia.[2] In 1869, during a rebellion against Benito Juárez’s government, General Epitacio Huerta attacked government positions in the city but were beaten back by forces under Mariano Escobedo.[3]

The first factories were opened in the city between 1868 and 1870, along with the first telegraph line. The railroad followed in 1883, as well as street cars.[3]

In 1910, celebrations are held for the centennial of Independence but tensions are high in the city due to the shortage of grain and the continuation of President Porfirio Diaz in power. One year later, revolutionaries loyal to Francisco I. Madero are welcomed into the city.[2] In 1914, the capital was moved from Morelia to the city of Tacámbaro. The city was then taken by forces under General Sánchez in the same year, and by forces loyal to Francisco Villa in 1915.[3]

In 1920, the Palace of the State Government was briefly taken over by farm workers and others from all over the state. Isaac Arriaga is assassinated here in 1921. The city is attacked again by rebels calling themselves “Delahuertistas” in 1924. The fight mostly occurs in the main plaza with the city defended by General Lopez, Garcia and Avila Camacho.[2]

During the 1960s the street vendors were removed from the historic center of the city, and palm trees that lined the Avenida Madero, the main east-west road, were cut down. In 1966, there was a student revolt at the state university which was put down by the army.[3]

Palacio Clavijero

The 1970s and 1980s are marked by construction including the Periferico bypass ring around the city.[3] During the 1980s, damage due to geographic faults, exacerbated by falling water tables from groundwater pumping is noticed. This problem is similar to problems faced by other cities on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt such as Querétaro and Mexico City.[5]

In 1991, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well preserved colonial architecture. In 2001, street vendors were moved again from the historic center to make the area more tourist-friendly. Traffic was rerouted from here as well with the construction of new bypasses. In 2006 and 2007, many of the plazas and gardens in the historic center were remodeled.[3]

In 2009, the Morelia metropolitan area was tentatively established as consisting of the municipalities of Zinapécuaro, Álvaro Obregón, Charo, Tarímbaro and Morelia. This initial determination was made the by Secretary of Urbanism and Environment, with further refinements to be made as the municipal presidents of these entities meets to discuss limits, strategies and further actions.[6] One of these actions has been to establish a formal commission to administer the area.[7]

Notable sites

Almost all of Morelia’s notable sites lie in its historic center, due to its history. This historic center is roughly equivalent to the original layout of the city when it was founded in 1541, and most of this layout has survived intact to the present day. Anticipating growth, this original layout had very wide streets and plazas for the time, with streets systematically arranged to allow for elongation. The streets are systematically laid out, but not rigidly squared, with most having gentle curves designed into them. Most of the grandest structures where completed during the 18th century, including the facade and bell towers of the Cathedral, the Colegio Seminario (today the State Government Palace), La Alhóndiga (today part of the Palace of Justice) and numerous private mansions. During the same time period, infrastructure such as the city’s aqueduct and various plaza fountains were constructed. The Mexican federal government lists 1,113 buildings built from the 16th to the 20th century as having historical value. The buildings encompass the various architectural styles that have been fashionable in Mexico, but nearly all are built of pink cantera stone, which gives the city a unified appearance. Several measures were taken in the 20th century to preserve this part of the city. In 1956, the city enacted regulations to preserve the historic center’s colonial buildings. In 1990, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari issued a decree making the historic center of Morelia a national historic monument. In 1991, the same areas was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO,[4] which covers 200 of the area’s historic buildings.[8]

Plaza Morelos

The heart of the historic center is the Cathedral and its surrounding plazas: the Plaza de Armas, also known as the Plaza de los Mártires, the Juárez Plaza and the Melchor Ocampo Plaza. The largest plaza is the Plaza de Armas, which 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.”[1] 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.[9] The plaza is surrounded by portals,[4] and colonial era buildings such as the Banca Promex, the Virrey de Mendoza Hotel, the Juan de Dios Gomez House and the old town hall, also called the Michelena House.[9] Until the late 19th century, a monument to Morelos had been here, but this was removed along with the fountain and replaced by a kiosk that was brought from London and remains to this day The last remodeling of the plaza occurred in the mid 20th century under the direction of architect and painter Juan O'Gorman. The Melchor Ocampo Plaza was originally named “Plaza de la Paz.” In the late 19th century, this plaza was remodeled and a monument to Ocampo sculpted by Primitivo Miranda was placed here. Another statue by Miranda, this one of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon was placed in the small plaza on the west side of the Cathedral and named the Morelos Plaza.[1]

Cathedral in Morelia's skyline
The Cathedral's facade at night

The first church on the Cathedral site was built in 1577, which was a modest structure of adobe and wood. Many years later, this structure would be almost completely destroyed by a fire.[1] Originally, the Cathedral of Michoacán was in Pátzcuaro in a church that now is the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Salud. When cathedral status was moved from there to Valladolid in 1580, the city became the civil, religious and cultural capital of the territory.[9] In 1660, Bishop Marcos Ramírez del Prado, placed the first stone of the new Cathedral, which was designed by Vicenzo Baroccio. Of the major churches of the early colonial period, only this and the Mexico City Cathedral do not face west, as was customary. The Cathedral of Michoacán is also unique in that is it is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Jesus, rather than some form of the Virgin Mary. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1705, even though it was not yet finished. The facade as a relief of the transfiguration of Christ and the east nave is dedicated to the sheepherders and Wise Men of the Nativity.[1] Built of pink cantera stone, the Cathedrals two sixty meter high towers still dominate the skyline of the city,[10] and are the second tallest Baroque towers in Mexico.[11]

The Cathedral’s official name is Cathedral of the Divine Savior of Morelia. Since it was built over the 17th and 18th century, elements of Neoclassical, Herreresque and Baroque architecture can be seen in the building.[10] The facade of the Cathedral is mostly decorated in pilasters rather than columns and relieves rather than sculptures. There are more than two hundred pilasters but no columns, the only church built this way during the colonial period.[4]

Inside, there are a number of elements that stand out. The baptismal font was made of silver in the 19th century and was used to baptize Mexico’s first emperor, Agustín de Iturbide. A three meter tall monstrance made of pure silver adorns the main altar and is unique in that it can be disassembled and reassembled. Also on the altar is a 16th century cornstalk paste image of the Señor de la Sacristía (Lord of the Sacristy), whose gold crown was a gift from Philip II of Spain. A newer addition is the organ from Germany, which has 4,600 pipes and is one of the largest in Latin America. On Saturdays at 8:45pm the Cathedral sponsors a sound and light show.[11][10]

In front of the Cathedral is the old Seminario Tridentino de San Pedro, one of the educational institutions of the colonial city. Today it is the Palace of the State Government. It was constructed by Thomás de Huerta in the latter 18th century. The school had graduates such as José María Morelos and Melchor Ocampo. The facade is mostly the original, with only the seal of Mexico added in the mid 19th century, when this building was converted for use as the home of the Michoacán state government. Inside are three courtyards with the walls of the first courtyard covered in murals done by Alfredo Zalce in the 1960s.[1]

Inner garden area of the Casa de la Cultura
Casa de la Cultura

The Casa de la Cultura is also the home of the Instituto Michoacano de Cultura (Michoacan Institute of Culture) and the State Secretary of Culture. It is located in the former monastery of Nuestra Señora del Carmen Descalzo, which was established in 1593. The church building was likely finished in 1619, the date inscribed on the south portal, but monastery construction continued into the 17th century. In the 19th century, the Reform Laws expropriated the cloisters and living quarters but left the church to its religious function, which continues to this day. After expropriation, the monastery area was first used as the home of the Primer Cuerpo de Caballería del Estado (First Calvary Corps of the State). Over time the church fell into disrepair but was restored in the 1940s. The rest of the complex was restored and converted to its present function starting in 1977.[12]

The Orquidario of Morelia is an orchid museum which houses approximately 3,400 species of the flower. The botanical garden consists of three greenhouses with some outside space. The museum is managed by SEMARNAT as part of a program to preserve wild species. The botanical garden has a surface area of over 990 meters2 and was founded in 1980.[13]

Traslado de las Monjas in the musueum

The Museo Regional Michoacano (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. Other important works include the original volume of the Voyage de Humboldt et Bonpland, edited in Paris in 1807 and the murals done by Alfredo Zalce, Federico Cantú and Grace Greenwood. There are also interactive exhibits on the origins of the earth and life. The museum also has conference rooms, a library and a reading room.[14]

The Museo del Estado (The State Museum) is dedicated to the state’s past and present. It was opened in 1986 and divided into three sections – archeology, history and ethnology of the state. There is also an exhibit of the old Mier Pharmacy with its equipment from 1868. The museum is located in an old mansion from the 18th century.[14]

The Museo de Arte Colonial (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 Jose Padilla from the 18th century. The museum is located in an old Baroque residence from the 18th century. Prior to the building’s use as a museum, it was the site of the first official government press in the state, founded in 1821.[14]

The Casa Museum José María Morelos y Pavón (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 and in 1939 became the property of INAH to be converted into this museum. Later, the building underwent another round of restoration work and was re-inaugurated in 1991. The lower level is mostly dedicated to Morelos with the rooms on the upper level dedicated to the war in general. The museum is also the archive of the Bishopric of Michoacán and contains documents from the 16th to the 20th century.[14]

Morelos' birthplace

The Casa Natal de Morelos (Morelos’ Birthplace) 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.[14]

The Museo de la Máscara (Mask Museum) presents two different mask collections, totaling more than 165 examples from cultures in twenty Mexican states. It is located in the Casa de Artesanias de Morelia (Handcraft House of Morelia).[14]

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Alfredo Zalce (Alfredo Zalce Museum of Contemporary Art) mostly contains works done by Alfredo Zalce and Efraín Vargas, both renowned Michoacán painters. It also holds temporary exhibits by Mexican and international artists.[14]


The Festival Internacional de Música de Morelia is an annual event that was begun in 1988 by Bernal Jiménez, who had the dream of making Morelia the “Salzburg of Latin America.” The festival consists of more than forty concerts with over 500 artists participating. It has become the largest music festival in Morelia, with private and government sponsors, esp. CONACULTA.[15]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.[16] In that year, some of the participants included the London Symphony Orchestra, the Brodsky Quartet, La Britten Symphony Orchestra, the Coro Nova Scholla Gregoriana Di Verona of Italy, and violinist Tanya Anisimova from Russia. Participants from Mexico included the National Symphonic Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería and flautist Horacio[15]

The Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia was begun in 2002, and is mostly dedicated to Mexican cinema, showcasing up-and-coming directors and productions. Winners of the 2009 festival include “Alamar” by Pedro González Rubio, “Presunto culpable” by Roberto Hernándex and Geoffrey Smith and “La sirena y el buzo” by Mercedes Moncada.[17]

Morelia is the site of the annual Zapata Vive Morelia Festival, which 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.[18]

The Festival de Escala is an annual event dedicated to promoting rock climbing in the municipality at places such as El Paredón de la Noria, located just south of the city proper.[19]


Morelia campus ITESM

During the colonial period the city had four major educational institutions, the Colegio Seminario Tridentino, the Colegio de San Nicolás, the Colegio de los Jesuitas and the Colegio de las Rocas.[4]

The state university, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo has its origins in the college founded in 1540 by Vasco de Quiroga in Pátzcuaro, the Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo. This school was originally founded to train priests and missionaries for work in Michoacán. The school gained a royal seal and patronage in 1543. In 1566, colonial religious authorities took over the school and in 1574, academics here were under the jurisdiction of the Jesuits. With the episcopal seat changed to Valladolid, the school moved also in 1580 and was fused with the already existing Colegio de San Miguel Guayangareo. The school was reformed in the 17th century and its curriculum was redesigned in the 18th to include courses in philosophy, religious law, civil law and other subjects. At the beginning the 19th century, the school became one of New Spain’s main centers of learning and academia, producing scholars such as a Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, José Ma. Morelos, José Sixto Verduzco, José María. Izazaga and Ignacio López Rayón, most of whom would have a role in the upcoming Mexican War of Independence. The school closed during the war but was reopened in 1847 with the name Primitivo y Nacional Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, focusing more on secular studies such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, etc. based on the European university model.

Jose Maria Morelos school at night

After the Mexican Revolution, the school was reorganized and renamed again to the Universidad Michocana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in 1917, which consolidated a number of other schools and disciplines into the new organization.[20]

Other universities in the city include Instituto Tecnológico de Morelia (ITM), Universidad Tecnológica de Morelia (UTM), Instituto Michoacano de Ciencias de la Educación, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Estado de Michoacán (CIDEM), UNAM Campus Morelia, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Conservatorio de las Rosas, Universidad Vasco de Quiroga, Universidad Latina de America, Universidad La Salle Morelia, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey- Campus Morelia and Universidad Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.


Morelia is represented by their first division soccer team, Monarcas Morelia.

Club Morelia was founded in 1924 on a field outside the city where a monument to Lázaro Cárdenas is now located. The team's original name was Oro (gold) and was owned by Eucuario Gómez. In 1951, after winning the championship of Mexico’s Second Division, it was renamed Club Deportivo Morelia, and Club Atletico Morelia After entering the 1st division for the first time. The team was nicknamed “Amarillo”(Yellow) During the 1956-57 season, when the club won the right to play in the 1st division in which they played in their first tournament for the Copa México against Club América.

The club descended into the 2nd division again in 1968 and experienced tough times during the early 70s. By the end of the 73-74 season the team was completely restructured by 32 Morelia Businessmen who acquired the team. After 13 years in the 2nd division, the team finally returned to 1st division play in 1981 and by the mid 80s was competitive and reaching the Liguilla (playoffs) regularly.

Following many years of playing at Estadio Venustiano Carranza, the completion of Estadio Morelos in 1989 gave the team a new home. In 1996, the team was acquired by TV Azteca and the name Monarcas (Monarchs) Morelia was adopted in 1999. The team won its first championship during the Invierno 2000 season and by mid-decade, was playing in international competition such as the Copa Libertadores and the Liga de Campeones de la CONACACAF (CONCACAF Champions League).

Currently, the team is competing in the Bicentenario tournament of the Primera División de México (Mexico's 1st division), as well as competing in the Copa Libertadores 2010. [21]


Hotel los Juaninos.

Morelia is three hours from Mexico City via the Atlacomulco-Maravatío-Morelia highway and is connected by highways to the states of Mexico, Querétaro, Guanajuato and Jalisco. It is connected to the Michoacán coast via highway 200 that passes through Uruapan to the port of Lázaro Cárdenas. General Francisco Mujica International Airport or Morelia International Airport (IATA: MLM, ICAO: MMMM) is an international airport located at Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. The airport handles both domestic and international flights, with connections to Mexico City, Uruapan, Lázaro Cárdenas, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana and several destinations in the Unites States. The airport is named after a former governor of the state of Michoacán.[9]

The municipality

Panoramic view of the city

As municipal seat, the city of Morelia is the governing authority of 423 other communities, almost all of which are small communities of between three and 1,000 people. 89% of the municipalities 684,145 people in the city itself [22] The municipality covers a territory of 1,199.02km2 and borders the municipalities of Tarímbaro, Chucándiro, Huaniqueo, Charo, Tzitzío, Villa Madero, Acuitzio, Lagunillas, Coeneo, Tzintzuntzan and Quiroga.[2]

Much of the municipality is located in the Guayangareo Valley between two rivers: the El Grande and the El Chiquito. Guayangareo means “large hill with a flat side.”[3] The municipality’s territory is rugged and dominated by peaks such as Punhuato, El Zapote and the Otzumatlán mountain range, with the highest peak being Quinceo with an altitude of 2,787 meters. The municipality belongs to the Lerma-Santiago river hydraulic region, with the main rivers being the El Grande and the El Chiquito. There are a number of streams including the Zarza and Pitaya. The most important dam here is Cointzio, with other smaller ones being Umécuaro, Laja Caliente and La Mintzita. The climate here is between temperate and subtropical with average humidity. Most precipitation falls during the summer rainy season. Average annual temperature is between 14 and 18C, with maximum temperatures of 38C in the early summer.[2]

Typical building style found throughout the city

Vegetation outside the city varies based on altitude and the type of soil. Mountainous areas are mostly covered in conifers while lower and drier areas have trees such as mesquite. To the south of the city is the Lázaro Cárdenas Forest, which is an ecological reserve. Animal life mostly consists of small mammals, with coyotes being the largest, birds of prey and some reptiles.[2]

The growth of the city of Morelia is having a negative impact on the surrounded forested area. This is particularly problematic in the area north of the city, which belongs to the Lake Cuitzeo basin, and is a main recharge area for the city’s aquifer. The forested areas around the city are also important for the city’s air quality and as a breeding place for pollinating insects needed for agriculture. UNAM has been documenting the species in these forests with the aim of getting them declared as biological reserves.[23]

The Morelia Palace of Justice.

Most people (+63%) are employed in the commerce section of the economy, with about 25% involved employed in manufacturing and construction industries. Less than ten percent are involved in agriculture. One industrial area is the Ciudad Industrial de Morelia, which mostly houses small and medium-sized enterprises. Some of the products manufactured here include cooking oil, flour, cement, plastics, bottling and candies.[2] Tourism is a rising component of the economy, taking advantage of area’s colonial heritage, smaller traditional communities, natural areas and archeological zones such as Santa María de Guido in the city, Barranca de los Lobos in Teremendo, Nahuatl Sanctuary and Yácatas in Capula. However, it has not been developed sufficiently to be a major contributor.[2][24]

According to Standard & Poor's report for November 2009, the government of Morelia maintains an adequate development budget, backed by relatively high income and low debt. It is rated on a national scale for Mexico as A+. The economy is projected to be stable with the government keeping control of expenses.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sanchez Reyna, Ramon (2008) (in Spanish). Michoacán:Morelia, Pátzcuaro, Cuitzeo, Zamora, Uruapan, Otros. Mexico City: Grupo Azabache,S.A. de C.V.. pp. 20-28. ISBN 978 6077 568 087. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México Michoacán Morelia" (in Spanish). Mexico: INAFED. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Historia [History]" (in Spanish). Morelia, Mexico: H.Auyunamiento de Morelia. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "El Centro Histórico de Morelia, Michoacán [The Historic Center of Morelia, Michoacan]" (in Spanish). Mexico: Mexico Desconocido.,-Michoac%E1n. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  5. ^ Avila-Olivera, Jorge A.; Victor H. Garduño-Monroy (2008 June 27). "A GPR study of subsidence-creep-fault processes in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico". Engineering Geology 100 (1-2): 69-81. 
  6. ^ Leon Gonzalez, Gladis (2009 May 25). "Avanzados los trámites para ampliar la zona metropolitana de Morelia: SUMA [Advances in the paperwork to amplify the metropolitana rea of Morelia: SUMA]" (in Spanish). La Jornada Michoacan (Morelia, Mexico). Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  7. ^ "Unifican criterios para la zona metropolitana de Morelia State of Michoacán [Unify criteria for the metropolitana rea of Morelia]" (in Spanish). State of Michoacan. 2009 July 28. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  8. ^ "Michoacán de Ocampo [Cathedral]". Encyclopedia Britanica. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  9. ^ a b c d Rojas, David. "Morelia, Michoacán-Plaza de Armas" (in Spanish). Instituto Cultural “Raices Mexicancas”. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  10. ^ a b c "Morelia Cathedral, Morelia". Sacred Destinations. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  11. ^ a b "Catedral [Cathedral]" (in Spanish). State of Michoacan. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  12. ^ "Casa de la Cultura de [House of Culture - Michoacan]" (in Spanish). Morelia: Secretaria de la Cultura-Michoacán. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  13. ^ "Orquidario de Morelia Michoacán. [Orchid museum of Morelia, Michoacan]" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Instituto Latinoamericano de la Comunicación Educativa. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Museo en Morelia México [Museums in Morelia, Mexico]" (in Spanish). Enjoy Mexico. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  15. ^ a b "Morelia se convierte en la capital de la música [Morelia becomes the capital of music]" (in Spanish). El Informador (Guadalajara, Mexico). 2009 November 13. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  16. ^ "XXI Festival Internacional de Música de Morelia [Spanish]". Press. 2009 September 11. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  17. ^ "Concluye séptimo Festival de Morelia [Seventh Festival of Morelia concludes]" (in Spanish). El Informador (Guadalajara, Mexico). 2009 October 11. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  18. ^ "Festival Zapata Vive Morelia" (in Spanish). 2009 April 14. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  19. ^ "Festival de Escalada en Morelia, Michoacán" (in Spanish). 2007 April 20. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  20. ^ Figueroa Zamudio, Silvia. "Historia de la Universidad Michoacana [History of the Michoacán University]" (in Spanish). Morelia, Mexico: Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  21. ^ "Fuerza Monarca [Monarch Force]" (in Spanish). Morelia, Mexico: Club Fútbol Morelia. Retrieved 2009 November. 
  22. ^ "INEGI Census 2005" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2009 November 23. 
  23. ^ Reyes, Gema (2009 October 29). "En riesgo, zona boscosa de Morelia [At risk, the forested zone of Morelia]" (in Spanish). La Jornada Michoacán (Morelia, Mexico). Retrieved 2009 November 21. 
  24. ^ a b "Standard & Poor's confirma calificación de 'mxA+' del municipio de Morelia, Michoacán; la perspectiva es estable [Standard & Poor’s confirms grade of ‘mxA+’ of the municipality of Morelia, Michoacán; forecast is stable]" (in Spanish). 2009 November 12.,1,1,0,1204851792136.html. Retrieved 2009 November 21. 

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

With a consistent colonial-style throughout, Morelia is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It is not really on the well-trodden path of the leisure tourists and so you can walk around in comfort without fear of the bermuda shorts crowds. Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacan in Mexico and it is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. There are at least two "information" booths in the area of the square. They are staffed with multilingual students who are very helpful

Centro Historico - Cathederal - Morelia
Centro Historico - Cathederal - Morelia


Morelia is the capital city of Michoacan. It serves government and many students attending school there. The central business district is very clean with plenty of places to eat and shop. Tourists are not as common here as some other areas of Mexico. You may want to load up on pesos before ordering food or trying to make a purchase, as foreign currency is not widely accepted. There are money changer stalls on the side streets off of the square.

It has a decent climate, nice parks to relax in, lots of places to get stuff, and very nice place over all. If you stay downtown, most of the attrations like the Cathederal, the square, museums, and shoppng, are all pretty much within walking distance. Due to Morelia's location, being a college town and center of State Government, tourist are not as common as some other areas of Mexico. The People are very friendly. In the central business district, drivers use their horns 24 hours a day to excess, prodding other drivers and to give notice at the numerous blind intersections. You will get used to it, but request a room away from the street.

Morelia is more than just the Centro Historico. Its outlying areas feature modern housing developments, shopping centers and parks. Tres Marias and Bosque Monarcas are ultra-modern new cities adjacent to Morelia.

Casa de Artesanias - Morelia
Casa de Artesanias - Morelia

Get in

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 either city is about 3-1/2 hours.

By car

Morelia is accessible by a modern toll road, and is located equidistant from Guadalajara and Mexico City. There are plenty of newer Pemex stations along the way, with restrooms and food. Be prepared with change/pesos to pay tolls. It is a very scenic trip, to say the least.

By plane

Morelia has a relatively new, modern airport at the edge of town. A taxi into the city costs US$10-15 (2006), and takes roughly 40 minutes. Make sure to double-check the fare before getting into the cab.

There are daily International flights from LAX, IAH and ORD and scheduled flights from SFO, SJC, SFM, which lead to MLM, Morelia's international airport, as do commuter flights from GDL, MEX, BJX and TIJ.

Aqueducts running through downtown Morelia.
Aqueducts running through downtown Morelia.

Buses, combis and taxis form Morelia's public transport. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, operating on zone fares.

Count on the taxis which are plentiful. Determine price before getting into 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 Historico is plagued by lack of parking. Driving in and around Morelia differs little from driving in any urban area.


There are a lot of interesting and beautiful colonial buildings to see in Morelia, most of them are open to the public for at least part of the day. Highlights of a Morelia city tour will include:

Day of the Dead Altar, Morelia
Day of the Dead Altar, Morelia
  • Cathedral: One of the downtown highlights is the baroque cathedral with its surrounding gardens and parks. The cathedral is enormous, covering more than 2 city blocks in area. Architectural details like the flying buttresses and tiled cupolas give it a distinctive look. The Cathederal is the site for the local "Day of the Dead" celebration in November. It is more of an experience than can be desribed here. Most of the activities take place after dark, make sure you have a good seat around the square at dark for the outside performance of the choir and the fireworks each night.
  • Casa Natal de Morelos and Casa de Morelos: Hero of the Mexican War for Independence, native son Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, was born, raised, and lived his life in Morelia. There are two Morelos homes in the city, and both are historical museums that chronicle Morelos and his role in shaping Mexico.
  • Aqueduct: Running down the center of Avenida Acueducto is an enormous aqueduct built in the 17th century to bring water into the budding young city.
  • Santuario de Guadalupe: One of the most serenely beautiful churches in Mexico, adorned in soft pink and white with gold trim, the church is a work of art in itself. It also houses a series of 17th century oil paintings that depict the Spanish missionaries' conquest over the barbaric religious traditions of the Aztecs.
  • Benito Juarez Zoological Park: 620 acre urban oasis that's home to a 75-acre lake and a large and diverse collection of animals, inclding everything from polar bears to monkeys. Kids love it, and the admission price is only about a dollar for adults and half that for kids.
Inside the Casa de Morelos, now a historical museum dedicated to one of Mexico's colorful Independence era heroes.
Inside the Casa de Morelos, now a historical museum dedicated to one of Mexico's colorful Independence era heroes.
  • Take some time to stroll around, particularly near the Cathedral.
  • Listen to a concert by the Morelia Boys Choir at the spectacular Conservatory of the Roses. The group is modeled on the Vienna Boys Choir, and their director is a former maestro from Vienna.
  • Find out about local festivals. Morelia frequently hosts outstanding events, like a regional foods festival in late fall, and music or cultural festivals at other times of the year. You can often find out about these through Morelia's tourist bureau web site. [1]
  • Visit the Santuario de Guadalupe (also known as the Templo San Diego) between the last week of November and December 12. For two weeks, Mexico celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Morelia's celebration is a classic!


Casa de Artesanias is located on Plaza San Francisco. Reserve your shoppng until you vist there, this is where the local artists display their wares.

The Mercado de Dulces was created about thirty years ago, and it features candy as well as inexpensive souvenirs. The Museo de Dulces, located on Av. Madero between the Cathedral and the Tarascan Fountain is definitely worth a stop. More than just a museum, it contains a coffee shop and offers the widest variety of candies as well as demonstrations of candy-making.


Morelia 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.
  • 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.


Some chains like Subway and Burger King are present on the square, for those who lack adventure. The dining room on the 3rd floor above the department store on the square is interesting to visit and has very good food. Ask for English menu available at most restaurants and be prepared to pay in pesos.


Outdoor patio dining under the city's historic portals is casual, fun, and affordable. The dining room of the Best Western is good, and a bit cheaper than the more sophisticated fare outside the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.

  • Las Fonda de las Mercedes 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 harkening back to 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 an Outback. Who would ever eat in chain restaurants in Morelia??
  • Las Trojes is an elegant steakhouse in the upscale neighborhood of Camelinas. The restaurant uses only certified Angus beef, cooked to perfection. The service is attentive yet friendly, and no detail is overlooked. Even the bread is spectacular at Las Trojes --- delicately crispy baguettes accompanied by a spicy bean and herb spread.


There are several bars in the city center that come to life starting around 11pm.

  • Ego Near the Sky - The most popular disco in Morelia. Blvd. Jefferson 600, [2]
  • Beatles House - Live rock bands with a retro 60s and 70s sound. On Av. Madero, across the street from the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.
  • Zitio - Casual disco atmosphere, known for its theme evenings. Av. Enrique Ramirez Miguel 110
  • Amsterdam - One of the best Gay café/bar in all the town, it is located in the centre, in Humboldt Street. It's a great place to go with all your LGBT friends and to meet new ones. The café organizes several activities, such as the Gay Pride march in may 17. "Amsterdam Café/bar" has delicious beverages, such like "Orgasm”, “White Russian” and a big coffee menu. It has a great ambience, all the place is decorated with colorful paintings, for example, a copy of “La Majo Desnuda” by Karina Kun and a big fresco of a Belgian painter, Peter Nyu. The barmen are also very nice and friendly. The two owners, a beautiful happy couple in love, Mario and Gabriel will be happy to welcome you and any of your LGBT friends and/or family.

Nude table dance bars cluster on the outskirts of the city along the Perinorte.

  • Hostel Allende, Allende 843, Tel: (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, Tel: (443) 312-2023, [3]. 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 Courtyard, Morelia
Hotel De La Soledad Courtyard, Morelia
  • Hotel De La Soledad, Ignacio Zaragoza # 90 Col. Centro. Morelia, Michoacan C.P 58000., (443) 312-1888 (fax: (443)312-2111), [4]. 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.  edit
  • Hotel Virrey de Mendoza, Av. Madero Pte. 310, Tel: (443) 312-4940, [5]. 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, Tel: (443) 312-0036, [6]. Upscale boutique hotel with graceful furnishings, unbeatable centro location and exquisite rooftop dining room.
  • Villa Montanas, Patzimba 201, Tel: (443) 314-0231, [7]. 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.


Buy a Telemex Ladatel prepaid calling card. They are available in many places, including convenience stores and bus station kiosks, and can be used in pay phones throughout Mexico. Using the cards can result in substantial savings, and is a sure way to prevent overcharging that can occur with collect or credit card calls. Ladatel cards are available many places on the square.

Get out

Morelia is an excellent gateway city for cultural and outdoor adventures throughout the state of Michoacan.

  • Monarch Butterfly Reserves: Millions of monarch butterflies descend on the forests of Michoacan each November and leave for their northward migration around March. There are at least 10 designated butterfly reserves within a 4-hour drive of Morelia. Tours can be arranged through hotel concierges. Hiring a private guide with a late-model sedan for an individual trip will cost about 2,000 pesos for a very full day for up to 3 people.
  • Patzcuaro: The quaint, tranquil, artistic town of Patzcuaro is an easy 1-hour bus ride from Morelia. It is worth spending quite a bit of time getting to know. It is the center of Mexico's "Day of the Dead" tradition, and is one of the great centers for finding authentic popular arts pieces.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MORELIA (formerly Valladolid), a city of Mexico and capital of the state of Michoacan, 125 m. direct and 234 m. by rail W. by N. of the city of Mexico, near the southern margin of the great Mexican plateau, 6398 ft. above sea-level, in lat. 1 9 ° 42' N. long., too 54' W. Pop. (1900), 37,278, partly Indians and mestizos. Morelia is served by a branch of the Mexican National railway; its station is outside the city, with which it is connected by a small tramway line. The city is built on a rocky hill rising from the Guayangareo valley, which gives to it a strikingly picturesque appearance. It has the usual rectangular plan, with several pretty squares and straight, clean, well-paved streets. Facing the plaza mayor, now called the Plaza de los Martires because of the execution there of the patriot Matamoros in 1814, is the cathedral, one of the finest specimens of the old Spanish renaissance church architecture in Mexico.

Among its interior adornments is an onyx font, some fine wood carving in the choir, and the silver doors to the shrines of its chapels. Opposite the cathedral is the government palace, which also contains the public library. The municipal government is housed in an ancient tobacco factory converted to public uses, and a fine old Capuchin convent now serves as a public hospital. The Paseo, or public park, is distinguished for its fine trees and flowers. The Morelianos are noted for their love of music, and musical competitions are held each year, the best band being sent to the city of Mexico to compete with similar organizations from other states. The public watersupply is brought into the city over a fine old aqueduct (3 m. in length, carried on arches), which was built in 1785 by the bishop of the diocese as a famine relief work. In common with the state of Michoacan, Morelia is a stronghold of clericalism and conservatism. A large number of private schools are maintained through Church influence in opposition to the public schools. Conspicuous among these is a large girls' school.. Another institution is the college of San Nicolas de Hidalgo, which was. founded at Patzcuaro in 1540 by Bishop Quiroga. (who had been sent into Michoacan to redress the wrongs. committed by Nun() de Guzman), was removed to Valladolid (Morelia) a few years later to be combined with a local college, and was rebuilt in 1882. It is the oldest existing. collegiate institution in Mexico; in it Hidalgo once taught and Morelos was a student. The city's manufactures idclude cotton, woollen and silk textiles, cigars and cigarettes, and dulces, or sweetmeats, Morelia being noted throughout Mexico for the latter, particularly for a variety called Guayabate.

Morelia, first known as Valladolid, was founded in 1541 by Viceroy Mendoza. In 1582 Valladolid replaced Patzcuara as the capital of Michoacan. It was the birthplace of both Morelos and Iturbide, and was captured by Hidalgo at the beginning of the revolutionary outbreak of 1810-1 1, and by Iturbide in 1821 when on his march to Mexico City, where he was crowned emperor. Its name was changed to Morelia in 1828, in honour of the revolutionary leader Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, and in 1863 it was made the see of an archbishop.

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Morelia may mean:


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