Pátzcuaro: Wikis


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—  Town & Municipality  —
Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
Pátzcuaro is located in Mexico
Location in Mexico
Coordinates: 19°30′59″N 101°36′35″W / 19.51639°N 101.60972°W / 19.51639; -101.60972
Country  Mexico
State Michoacán
Founded 1320?
Municipal Status 1831
 - Municipal President Antonio García Velazquez (2008-2011)
 - Municipality 435.96 km2 (168.3 sq mi)
Elevation of seat 2,140 m (7,021 ft)
Population (2005)Municipality
 - Municipality 79,868
 - Seat 51,124
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Postal code (of seat)
Website (Spanish) Official site

Pátzcuaro is a large town and municipality located in the state of Michoacán. The town was founded sometime in the 1320’s, at first becoming the capital of the Tarascan state and later its ceremonial center. After the Spanish took over, Vasco de Quiroga worked to make Pátzcuaro the capital of the New Spain province of Michoacán, but after his death, the capital would be moved to nearby Valladolid (today Morelia). Pátzcuaro has retained its colonial and indigenous character since then,[1] and has been named both a “Pueblo Mágico[2] and one of the 100 Historic World Treasure Cities by the United Nations.[3] Pátzcuaro and the lake region it belongs to is well-known as a site for Day of the Dead celebrations.[4]

There are several possibilities as to the meaning of “Pátzcuaro.” The first is from “phascuaro” which means where is dyed in black, or from patatzecuaro, which means place of foundations, another is from petatzimícuaro meaning place of bullrushes, and still others state that it means happy place or seat of temples. Pátzcuaro received its coat of arms in 1553 from Charles V of Spain.[1]



The only history available about the founding of Patzcuaro comes from a book called “Relación” written by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza. It states that two chiefs by the names of Páracume and Vápeani arrived to the area, then called Tarimichundiro, with their tribe, the Chichimecas. Here they began to build their temples, called “cues” where there were four large rocks close together. No date is given for this event, but since the deaths of the two original chiefs occurred in 1360, it is widely supposed that the founding occurred around 1324.[1]

Around this time, three indigenous groups lived around Lake Pátzcuaro, who continuously fought each other. One group was called the “Coringuaro,” another group the “Isleños” and the third the Chichimecas in Pátcuaro. The Tarascan kingdom began with Tariácuri, the first chief of the area be gain the title of “caltzontzin,” or emperor, by conquering his neighbors. Pátzcuaro was the first capital of the Tarascos. The new kingdom was divided into three principalities called Ihauatzio, Tzintzuntzan and Pátzcuaro. Later, power shifted to the Tzintzuntzan principality, becoming the new capital, leaving Pátzcuaro as the ceremonial center, and a retreat for the nobility.[1]

When the Spanish arrived to Michoacán, many sought refuge in Pátzcuaro. Forts were built here in a neighborhood that is still called “Barrio Fuerte” (Fort Neighborhood). Fighting continued between the Tarascans and the Spanish. A meeting between the emperor Tanganxoan II and Cristobal de Olid was arranged. Getting down off his horse, Olid embraced the monarch, then forced him to kneel in front of the crowd. Today, later a chapel was build here which is called “El Humilladero” (The Humiliated). In 1526, Nuño de Guzman came as head of the new Spanish government to punish the Tarascans harshly. This culminated with the torture and death of Taganxoan II the last Tarascan emperor. After this, most residents of Pátzcuaro fled to the mountains leaving the area mostly unpopulated.[1] Vasco de Quiroga arrived to Pátzcuaro to take over. He expelled Nuño de Guzman and took his properties here. Nuño was eventually sent back to Spain as a prisoner for his crimes in New Spain.[5]

A statue of the Virgin Mary in indigenous garb

In 1538, the Spanish established their settlement in Pátzcuaro, founding the Diocese of Michoacán with Vasco de Quiroga as first bishop. Pátzcuaro was made the capital of the new Spanish province. The 1540s saw a repopulation of the area with Bishop Vasco de Quiroga convincing many of the Indians to return and bringing in a number of Spanish families. For this Vasco de Quiroga is considered to be the founder of modern Pátzcuaro. He renamed the city as the City of Michoacán, which was confirmed by royal decree in 1553, with Pátzcuaro receiving its current coat of arms. The cathedral was constructed over the temple dedicated to the goddess Cueráppari. Vasco de Quiroga wanted to build the an ambitious cathedral here, with five naves, but this was declared inacceptable by the Spanish crown and only one of the naves was built. It remains to this day.[1] Pátzcuaro remained the largest city in the Spanish province until about ten years after Vasco de Quiroga’s death. Viceregal authorities then decided to change the capital to the recently founded Valladolid (today Morelia) in 1575. Ecclesiastical authorities moved the diocese and the College of San Nicolás, established by Vasco de Quiroga, to Valladolid as well.[1]

Pátzcuaro remained the economic and spiritual center of the Lake Pátzcuaro region with life dominated by Franciscan and Augustinian friars. In the mid 18th century, the city had a population of about 3,300 people.[1] During the Mexican War of Independence, Pátzcuaro was attacked several times. Gertrudis Bocanegra was shot by firing squad for her participation in insurgent activities by royalist forces on the main square of Pátzcuaro on 10 October 1817. After Independence, the town was the capital of the 12th district of the West Department of Michoacán. In 1831, the state was reorganized and Pátzcuaro became the seat of the municipality of the same name.[1] During the Reform War in 1867, Pátzcuaro sided with the Conservatives, who wanted to maintain the second Mexican empire. The city was then attacked by General Régules of the Republican side, who took possession of the town after a bloody fight and named liberal leaders.[1]

During the Porfirio Diaz period, just before the Mexican Revolution, the Pátzcuaro area was heavily dominated by large landholders, haciendas and some foreign companies, pushing popular sympathy with the rebels to come. The town became a strategic point for taking the Michoacán capital. The town remained in rebel hands for most of the conflict but was taken in 1913 by Victoriano Huerta’s government. At the end of the conflict, reconstruction of the town included the criteria of conserving its colonial and indigenous look.[1]

The town

Street in front of Casa de los Once Patios

Since the Mexican Revolution, Patzcuaro has worked to keep its traditional colonial-indigenous look.[1] Unlike the capital, houses in Pátzcuaro are made of adobe and/or wood and generally have tiled roofs.[6] Cobblestone streets dominate the center of town down to the lake.[7] The town is filled with stores and vendors selling a wide variety of crafts, many in bright colors.[8] Patzcuaro is the market hub of the region, with smaller villages bringing in their own specialized crafts such as copperware, black pottery, musical instruments, baskets etc.[3] Local dishes include tamales filled with fish, tarasca soup, red pozole, atole, trout dishes, and a number of cold drinks based on corn.[5] The courtyards and balconies are almost always filled with flowering plants, which is a tradition in Patzcuaro, with many homeowners sharing tips and plants with each other, sometimes even cross breeding a new variety of flower. The most common flower to be seen is the begonia, which blooms best between July and September. Other common plants include geraniums, mallows, bougainvilleas, tiger lilies, azaleas, hydrangeas, roses and others. Non-flowering plants that can also be seen include palm trees, selaginella and various cacti. Some grow medicinal and culinary herbs such as aloe, chamomile, mint, basil and others.[9] Patzcuaro was named as one of the 100 Historic World Treasure Cities by the United Nations. This generated funds for restoration projects such as repairing the old cobblestone streets.[3] It is also one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magic Towns).[2]

street next to the Plaza Grande

The town center is called the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga or the Plaza Grande. This plaza is large considering the size of the town. The Plaza Grande was dedicated to Vasco de Quiroga in 1964, when a fountain containing a bronze statue of the bishop was placed in the center. This sculpture was done by Costa Rican artist Francisco Zúñiga.[6][10] The Plaza is surrounded by old, stately ash trees and colonial-era mansions. Unlike most other towns and cities in Mexico, the main church does not face this plaza.[1][7] While crafts can be seen for sale in all of the town, they are prominent here. The main square is filled with stores selling a very wide variety of crafts including carved wooden statues and furniture, brightly painted accents depicting flowers and animals, brilliant piles of woven textiles, draperies, table cloths, bed spreads and napkins, wooden figures, religious art, clay plaques and pots, polished wooden boxes and guitars, picture frames, woolen blankets, copper vases and platters, basketry and items made of woven straw and reed, and sculpted and scented candles. Many of these are on display in the shops set into the colonial buildings around the plaza, with much more inside.[8]

Upper level of the Palace

Facing the main plaza is the Palace of Huitziméngari. This structure, like most of the rest of the town, is made of adobe and with a clay tile roof.[6] This palace belonged to Antonio de Huitziméngari, the son of the last Tarascan governor, named Cazonci, and the godson of the first viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza.[11] It has two floors, a sober facade and the inner courtyard is surrounded with round arches and filled with flowers.[7][11] On the upper floor, there is a stature of a dog, an allusion to Huitziméngari’s name which in Tarascan mythology referred to the dog that served the Lord of Paradise. The dog motif is repeated on some of the inside doors.[6]

Juan O’Gorman mural at the library

One block to the north of the Vasco Plaza is the Plaza Gertrudis Bocanegra, also called the Plaza Chica.[10] The market off of Gertrudis Bocanegra specializes in woolen goods, kitchen implements, pottery, copper and straw items.[8] Friday is market day, filling the walkways here with stalls with goods from various villages. Near main holidays, such as Day of the Dead, this market can spill over to the other two plazas in town as well.[3] One of the buildings next to this plaza is the Ex Temple of San Agustin, which was founded in the 16th century. Today is houses the Gertrudis Bocanega Library.[10] This library has a mural painted by Juan O’Gorman of the history of Michoacán.[1]

Facade of the Basilica

On the east side of the Plaza Chica is the most important church in Pátzcuaro, the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Salud.[12] This church was built by Vasco de Quiroga over a pre-Hispanic ceremonial site to function as the Cathedral of Michoacán. Vasco de Quiroga’s original project was ambitious, with five naves surrounding a cupola, but the Spanish Crown thought the project in appropriate and only one of the naves was built.[1] The church served as the Cathedral until 1850, when that function was moved to Valladolid (now Morelia). This church was designated a basilica in 1924.[12] The facades of this church have been modified since it was built until the end of the 19th century, which is why it now has a Neoclassical appearance. The inside has roof decorated to look like a vault but it is really a flat roof. The image here is a Virgin of the Immaculate Conception that originally was in the Hospital of Santa Marta.[6] Now called “Our Lady of Health”, it is made with corn-stalk paste and honey that was created in the 16th century. The remains of Vasco de Quiroga are interred here. This basilica is visited every day, but especially on the eighth day of every month to pay homage to the region’s patroness.[7]

Facade of the Museo de Artes e Industrias Populares

The Museo de Artes e Industrias Populares (Museum of Popular Arts and Industries) is located just south of the Basilica.[10] The building was originally constructed as the College of San Nicolás in the 16th century by Vasco de Quiroga to prepare young men for the priesthood and to teach Indian youth to read and write.[13] After the College was moved to Valladolid in 1580, the building was turned over to the Jesuits to found the College of Santa Catarina which functioned as a primary school.[6] It contains one of the largest collections of lacquered items, models, and other crafts.[13]

The Temple Sagrario

The Temple Sagrario was begun in 1693 and completed exactly two centuries later. For this reason, it has incorporated a number of different architectural styles, with different decorative elements.[14] The temple has a Neoclassical interior,[10] with the parquetry floors as the only aspect left of the original construction.[6] It has a Churrigueresque altar and on the west wall there is a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Dolores on a Baroque altarpiece. These are the only ones of their type left in Pátzcuaro.[6][10] The building has functioned as the Sancturary of Nuestra Señora de la Salud since 1924.[14]

Entrance patio of the Casa de los Once Patios

The Casa de los Once Patios (House of Eleven Courtyards) was constructed in 1742 for Dominican nuns of the order of Santa Catarina de Sena.[7][15] They gradually expanded the initial building by buying adjacent houses, which is why the complex once had eleven courtyards, but now that is down to only five.[10] In the west corridor, the oldest part of the complex, there is a fountain and a Baroque portal leading to a room that had a bathtub with hot and cold running water, a rare luxury at the time.[6][7] In the 1960s, the complex was restored and since then has functioned as workshops and stores for local crafts.[10] The workshops include those that make shawls and lacquered items.[15] Behind the Casa de los Once Patios is the Pila de San Miguel. According to legend, the devil was bothering the women who were coming here to get water. To scare the devil away, Vasco de Quiroga put here the image of the Archangel Michael.[10]

The Church of San Ignacio de Loyola, better known as the Temple of the Company of Jesus, is one of the most relevant religious structures architecturally.[6][10] It has a sober Baroque facade divided into panels which is typical for this area. The interior guards valuable religious paintings such as a series of angels, and works done in wood. One of these is multicolored panel about Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The east wall of this church held the remains of Vasco de Quiroga before they were moved to the Basilica.[6] The complex has a large courtyard and a “punished” clock, set high up in a tower. It is considered “punished” as it does not chime at twelve noon. It is said that the machinery for the clock was brought from Spain on orders of Charles V who wanted to get rid of it for marking an hour that was disagreeable to the Crown. Another story states that an unfortunate young woman was killed by the clock when she got in the way of the bell and the pendulum when it was ready to ring twelve. In the 16th century, the complex suffered major damage due to a fire. It was rebuilt to much the look that it has now.[7] This temple and the cloister next door housed the Jesuits when they came to Pátzcuaro at the request of Vasco de Quiroga because of their reputation in the field of education.[16] The adjoining building is now the Casa de Cultura.[10]

The Chapel del Humilladero was constructed by Vasco de Quiroga in 1553 on the site where the last Tarascan emperor, Tanganxoan II, was forced to kneel before the Spanish, giving the site its name (The Humiliated).[1] The crucifix of this chapel was sculpted from a single block of cantera stone, both the body and the cross. It is said that Vasco de Quiroga had the piece sculpted in 1553, but it was not finished until 1628.[10]

The lake

Fishing boats on the lake

Pátzcuaro sits on the southern edge of Lake Pátzcuaro, and this lake still has important economic and cultural significance for the town.[1] Associated with Pátzcuaro are a number of islands, the best-known of which is Janitzio, a name that means corn hair. It is recognizable through the forty-meter statue of José María Morelos y Pavón that in on the top of the hill. Underneath the statue is a series of murals about the life of this Mexican hero. There are four other islands in the lake. La Pacanda is in the center. This island has a small pond in it with carp and ducks. Yuneén Island is near the center and its name means half moon. Its attractions include its vegetation, traditional houses and cabins for visitors. Urandenes is closer to Patzcuaro and consists of three islands surrounded by canals in which white fish are raised. Residents here also fish with butterfly nets. Tecuena is the smallest island in the lake and its name means good honey.[5] The docks at Pátzcuaro have boats that travel to these islands.[8]

Until 2007, only Pátzcuaro had a water treatment facility with smaller communities discharging wastewater directly into the lake, causing grave pollution problems.[17] Contamination has mostly been chemical, trash and wastewater, as well as sediment during the rainy season.[18] The government of the state of Michoacan, the federal environmental protection agency and the Instituto Mexicano de Tecnologia del Agua have started a program to clean up the basin of Lake Pátzcuaro. The plan is to repair the existing water treatment facilities and build two more. It also includes reforestation around the lake, landfills and barriers to prevent the contamination of the streams of the basin.[17][18]

Day of the Deads

Catrina figure bought in Patzcuaro

Pátacuaro and the surrounding lake area have one of the best-known Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Markets catering to Day of the Dead festivities abound in all of Michoacan but the best of what is to be had is in the market in the main plaza of Pátzcuaro. Here is one of the major crafts competitions of the year.[19] Day of the Dead is celebrated very intensely in the towns and villages around Lakes Pátzcuaro. Preparations include major cleaning and repair of the local cemeteries and the creation of flowered arches for gates of the atriums of local churches. These are made with a flower called cempasúchil, related to the chrysanthemum. In the early morning of November 1, the “velación de la angelitos” (wake for the little angels) to honor children who have died during the previous year. This is generally done in the local cemeteries. During this day also is an event called the “teruscan,” in which children run around town “stealing” ears of corn, squash and chayotes from the roofs of neighbors’ houses. The stolen food is brought to the community center to be cooked to feed the community.[4]

Festivities continue to midnight on November 2, which begins the “velación de los difuntos” (wake for the deceased) when again the towns gather in local cemeteries. This time men remain outside. Women and children enter to lay offerings of flowers and food, generally laid on embroidered napkins. Then prayers and chants are recited. For this reason Day of the Dead is usually referred to in Pátzcuaro as Night of the Dead. When daylight comes, a collection of food is taken for the parish priest and most people go to mass.[4]

A parallel event in Pátzcuaro and other towns in Michoacan is the Festival Cultural de la Muerte. Since 1993, this event has been held to exhibit paintings, photographs, film, dance, crafts and altars that are created for this day. Canoeing competitions on the lake are popular here as well as “torneos de calavaeras”(tournaments of skulls) which are satirical poetry contests with the theme of death and black humor. This festival takes place from 27 October to 2 November.[20]

Other traditional events associated with Day of the Dead here include the Concert of the Basilica of Pátzcuaro and the staging of “Don Juan Tenorio” in Erongarícuaro. Both take place at 9 pm on 1 November. Another interesting event is the “Juego Prehispanico de Pelota Encendida (Mesoamerican ball game –lighted) At 7 pm on 1 November in the village of Tzintzuntzan the game is played in the old ballc ourt, called Las Yácatas, with a ball set on fire. It is also done in the main square of the village.[19]

There is a legend related to the Day of the Dead here about two Tarascan nobles, the princess Mintzita and the prince Itzihuapa. They were in love but unable to unite in part because of the arrival of the Spanish to Michoacán. Princess Mintzita offered the Spanish the treasure that was hidden at the bottom of Lake Patzcuaro for the release of her father. Itzihuapa himself offered to go and get it, but when he did, he was captured by the twenty ghosts that guard treasure, becoming the 21st guardian. This broke Mintzita’s heart. However, this occurred on the night that these guardian ghosts come back to life for one night and the two lovers were able to spend time together until daylight.[19]

The municipality

As municipal seat, the town of Pátzcuaro is the governing authority over 104 other named communities, with a total population of 79,868[21] and a territory of 435.96km2.[1] The 2005 census indicates that just under 4,000 people still peak an indigenous language in the municipality. The municipality borders the municipalities of Tzintzuntzan, Huiramba, Salvador Escalante, Tingambato and Erongarícuaro.[1]

The municipality covers most of the Pátzcuaro basin, which is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and surrounded by a number of mountains such as the Cerro el Blanco, Cerro del Estribo, Cerro del Frijol and Cerro del Burro. Almost all the surface water is in Lake Patzcuaro with one stream called the El Chorrito and a number of fresh-water springs. The climate is temperate with rains in the summer. Temperatures vary during the year from between 9 and 23C. The municipality is primarily covered in forests with pine holm oak and cedar trees. Most fauna consists of small mammals and fish found in the lake.[1]

Agricultural activity mostly revolves around the growing of corn, wheat, beans, lentils and tomatoes. Livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep, donkeys, horses and fowl also takes place. Most industry here involves food processing and the making of crafts such as furniture, textiles, jewelry, ironwork, religious figures and other things. Most commerce here revolves around catering to tourists and meeting locals’ basic needs. Fishing is still done in the lake. Tourism is mostly based on sites located in the town of Pátzcuaro,[1] along with neighboring archeological sites of Ihuatzio and Tzintzuntzan. Sports such as mountain biking and paragliding have also been introduced here.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u [http://www.e-local.gob.mx/wb2/ELOCAL/EMM_michoacan "Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México Michoacán PÁTZCUARO"] (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal. http://www.e-local.gob.mx/wb2/ELOCAL/EMM_michoacan. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  2. ^ a b "Pátzcuaro Pueblo Mágico". Municipality of Pátzcuaro. http://patzcuaro.gob.mx/v2/?cat=13. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  3. ^ a b c d Smith, Toby (2007-02-16). "Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico". Mexconnect. http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/517-p%C3%A1tzcuaro-michoac%C3%A1n-mexico. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  4. ^ a b c "Noche de Muertos [Night of the Dead]" (in Spanish). Mexico Desconocido Guia Especial Lo mejor de Michoacán, el alma de México (Mexico City: Impresiones Aereas SA de CV): 22–25. October 2009. ISSN 9397 1870 9397.  
  5. ^ a b c d "El Lago de Pátzcuaro" (in Spanish). Equipo Editorial Explorando México. http://www.explorandomexico.com.mx/about-mexico/11/157/. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sanchez Reyna, Ramon (2008). "Pátzcuaro" (in Spanish). Michoacán Turiguia. Mexico City: Multiguia Cultural SA de CV. pp. 117–120. ISBN 978 6077 568 087.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Atracciones in Pátzcuaro, Mexico" (in Spanish). Enjoy Mexico. http://www.enjoymexico.net/mexico/patzcuaro-atracciones-mexico.php. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  8. ^ a b c d "Arts and Crafts". Surf Mexico. http://www.surf-mexico.com/states/Michoacan/Patzcuaro/crafts.html. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  9. ^ Sarmiento, Manuel. "Los patios floridos de Pátzcuaro (Michoacán) [The flowered courtyards of Pátzcuaro (Michoacán)]" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Mexico Desconocido. http://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/interior/index.php?p=nota&idNota=3787. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Pátzcuaro mágico y clásico [Magical and Classical Pátzcuaro]" (in Spanish). Mexico Desconocido Guia Especial Lo mejor de Michoacán, el alma de México (Mexico City: Impresiones Aereas SA de CV): 30–34. October 2009. ISSN 9397 1870 9397.  
  11. ^ a b "Palacio de Huitziméngari" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/huitzimengari/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  12. ^ a b "Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/1_basilica.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  13. ^ a b "Museo de artes e industrias populares" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/2_museo.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  14. ^ a b "El Sagrario" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/4_el_sagrario.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  15. ^ a b "Casa de las once patios" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/5_once_patios.html. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  16. ^ "Templo y colegio de la Compania de Jesus" (in Spanish). http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/3_templo_compania.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  17. ^ a b Brundell, Robin. "Invertirán US $12mn para sanear lago de Pátzcuaro [They will invest 12 million USD to clean up Lake Pátzcuaro]" (in Spanish). Business News Americas. http://www.bnamericas.com/news/aguasyresiduos/Invertiran_US*12mn_para_sanear_lago_de_Patzcuaro. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  18. ^ a b Nealson, Christine (2004-01-01). "Patzcuaro". Mexconnect. http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1152-p%C3%A1tzcuaro. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  19. ^ a b c "Día de Muertos en Pátzcuaro, Michoacán". Terra. http://www.terra.com.mx/articulo.aspx?articuloid=745233&paginaid=2. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  
  20. ^ "Festival Cultural de la Muerte [Cultural Festival of Death]" (in Spanish). Mexico Desconocido Guia Especial Lo mejor de Michoacán, el alma de México (Mexico City: Impresiones Aereas SA de CV): 27. October 2009. ISSN 9397 1870 9397.  
  21. ^ "Principales resultados por localidad 2005 (ITER) [Principle results by community 2005]" (in Spanish). Mexico City: INEGI. http://www.inegi.org.mx/est/contenidos/espanol/sistemas/conteo2005/localidad/iter/default.asp?s=est&c=10395. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  

External links

Coordinates: 19°30′57″N 101°36′34″W / 19.51583°N 101.60944°W / 19.51583; -101.60944


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Patzcuaro article)

From Wikitravel

Patzcuaro is in the Lake Patzcuaro area of the Mexican state of Michoacan.


A lovely mountain town, Patzcuaro is colonial Mexico at its most enchanting. It is the most important town of the lake region of Michoacán. An especially charming zócalo marks the center of town; hotels, restaurants and shops line the square, housed in buildings dating from the fourteenth century. Patzcuaro is not for nightlife lovers - ample sightseeing will wear out the average visitor during daylight hours, anyway.

Increasing numbers of Europeans and Gringos are moving to the Lake Patzcuaro area as prices in other gringo havens have gone up considerably. Elevation: 2,200m/7,200 feet

Get in

Patzcuaro is most easily reached by bus or car.

By bus

Several first-class bus lines have infrequent service to Patzcuaro. The Purhepecha bus line (a subsidiary of Flecha Amarilla) runs very frequent buses between Patzcuaro and the larger cities of Morelia and Uruapan. From Morelia, a Purhepecha bus leaves for Patzcuaro about every 20 minutes between 6AM and 8PM for a fare of 30 pesos (August 2009 price). Tip: If your plan is to go directly to Janitzio, get off the bus at the Pemex station when you first come into town --- there will often be several people getting down there. The boat dock is a few short blocks walk.

By car

Patzcuaro is an easy drive from the Pacific coast towns of Ixtapa, a resort community, and former fishing village Zihuatenejo, which has a large airport. Visitors may take a modern toll road (about $8 in tolls for a four hour drive) or the essentially parallel "libre" road, which winds through beautiful country; turn north northwest of Ixtapa and follow road signs to Morelia. Don't forget that in Mexico, a left hand signal from the car in front of you [generally] means it is safe to pass.

You can also arrive from Guadalajara via the Guadalajara-Morelia-México toll Highway: exit at Coeneo Huaniqueo (Coeneo direction), after Coeneo, head to Quiroga, then to Tzinzunzan and finally to Pátzcuaro. Foreigners should be warned that highway signs are sometimes scarce and not very well placed. People are usually helpful if you are lost, but you have to know some basic Spanish.

A Michoacán PDF highway map is available from the Communications and Transport Secretariat website [1] (maps for the other states can be found at the same site here: [2]).

Get around

The central downtown area is easily explored on foot. Taxis are readily available when you need to get to the bus station or boat docks, and are an excellent option for exploring the villages that surround Lake Patzcuaro.

El Sagrario
El Sagrario
  • Casa de los Once Patios - Large collection of small artesania shops, most selling authentic crafts from the Lake Patzcuaro region, set in an historic downtown landmark.
  • Plaza Grande and Plaza Chica - Life in Patzcuaro revolves around its two central downtown plazas, with manicured landscaping, local monuments, boutique shops, quaint inns, and casual sidewalk cafes.
  • Basilica de la Nuestra Señora de Salud - Patzcuaro's most important church, and the resting place for the remains of Bishop Don Vasco Quiroga, a local hero much loved by the Tarascan people.
  • Biblioteca Gertrudis Bocanegra - Beautiful public library which also houses a famous mural by modern artists Juan O'Gorman.
  • El Sagrario - Stunningly beautiful smaller church that looks ancient beyond its years.
Chapel in Janitzio Cemetery - José A. Guzmán
Chapel in Janitzio Cemetery - José A. Guzmán
  • Celebrate Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos):

Celebrated on November 1st mostly throughout central and southern México, el Día de los muertos (Day of the dead) is especially important in Michoacán.

Janitzio, an island in Lake Patzcuaro, is a tourist magnet for the occasion. The highlight is the cultural festival with folk dance, music and song. Find out the schedule for the festival beforehand to gain a good place and enjoy the free show. Transport to the island is by boat, expect long queues for a 30 to 40 pesos roundtrip ticket on the main Pátzcuaro dock. If you are parking at the municipal parking lot during this period, keep in mind that you may/will most likey be blocked into your parking space with no chance of moving your car until the next day.

During the Day of the Dead festivities, if you dislike unordered Mecca-size crowds, spare the visit to Janitzio and plan to travel to nearby Tzinzunzan instead, for a more authentic and a bit less crowded experience.

Consider that the highways in the area get crowded as well, so to be safe, arrive at either destination before noon, and book a hotel reservation several weeks in advance (there are several hostels and hotels in Pátzcuaro). You can also pack your camping tent and sleeping bag and pay around 50 pesos per night/person in a trailer-camping park near Pátzcuaro.

  • Sidetrips to local villages

A visit to Patzcuaro is not complete without a sidetrip to the town of Paracho, home to master guitar craftsmen who pass their trade down from generation to generation. If you visit, hire a local lad to guide you to craftsmens' homes. About an hour's drive. You may also hire a guide at Patzcuaro's Hotel Mansion de Iturbe (on the west side of the main zocalo) who will take you to several of the outlying villages, including Paracho.

If you wish to escape the tourists in Patzcuaro head 17 kilometers around the lake to Erongaricuaro a lively pleasant town.

Cuanajo is another town worth seeing for the hand-made furniture there. The turn-off to Cuanajo is on Highway 14 between Patzcuaro and Morelia.

  • Day of the Dead Souvenirs

A door in a building on the east side of the main zocalo opens around 10AM; sometimes a sign proclaims it be the entrance to an artisan's market - sometimes not. Follow a short alley to several charming shops offering spectacular Day of the Dead statues and souvenirs - Patzcuaro is home to a famous Day of the Dead celebration centered around Patzcuaro Lake (or Lake Patzcuaro). Not run-of-the-mill junk intended for tourists, these handicrafts are truly wonderful and well priced. Statues can be handpainted to your specifications, though it's hard to imagine one could create better combos than do the artists.

Patzcuaro Fish and Chips
Patzcuaro Fish and Chips

Typical of the region are:

  • Charalitos: small lake fish, fried in large flat pans and served as a snack with salt, chili, and lime.
  • Pescado blanco: white fish (originally) from Lake Patzcuaro, prepared to order
  • Sopa Tarasca: bean and tortilla based soup, often spiced with piquant chilis and topped with a swirl of slightly acidic crema mexicana.
  • Corundas: similar to tamales (corn based).
  • Nieve de pasta: milk-based ice cream.
  • Best Western Posada De Don Vasco, Patzcuaro, Calzada de Las Americas 450, Patzcuaro, Michoacan. Dining room with Sunday Buffet. Very good food. Meals $6.00/10.00 and up.
  • Fonda Mama Lupe, Dr. Benito Mendoza Street, about halfway down the one-way street leading from Plaza Chica to Plaza Grande. For under US$5 (Feb 2008), you'll get a small salad, choice of soups, choice of main dishes, postre, and agua de fruta. A small sandwich-board sign identifies the entrance; seating is in a covered patio. Best for breakfasts.
  • La Surtidora, referred to by gringo expats as 'The Office' - where the above street enters the Plaza Grande. This is the place in Patzcuaro to buy fresh coffee.
  • Mariscos La Güera, on the edge of town, where Calle Federico Tena meets the Libramiento (bypass road) as it heads south towards Santa Clara de Cobre. Extensive menu of well-prepared seafood dishes; excellent service, moderate prices. Any dish with shrimp in it is a specialty, but there's much much more.
  • Mercado de Antojitos; at the Plaza Chica (Bocanegra) end of the mercado. Lots of cheap, tasty foods. Recommended: tamales, corundas and birria.

[Pátzcuaro Street Food: [3]]

Pátzcuaro Mercado: [4]

  • El Sotano. Young crowd. Beer and pool tables. Occasional live music.
  • El Campanero, On Plaza Grande.
  • Pool Bar.
  • Pixel. Nightclub.
  • Hotel Casa de la Real Aduana, Ponce de Leon 16, Centro, Phone: 434) 342 0265 email: (info@realaduana.com) An intimate five-room Boutique Hotel of charm and beauty in the heart of Colonial Patzcuaro.(web page:www.realaduana.com).
  • Hotel Mansion Iturbe, Portal Morelos # 59, Col. Centro C.P, 61600, [5]. Small boutique hotel with two restaurants and plenty of art and history. Hotel Mansion Iturbe is in Vasco de Quiroga Square, heart of Patzcuaro, one hour from Morelia International Airport.
  • Best Western Posada De Don Vasco, Patzcuaro, Calzada de Las Americas 450, Phone: 01(434)342-0227/342-2704 (Email: bwposada@prodigy.net.mx). $48.00 per night and up. Dining room w/Sunday Buffet.
Pátzcuaro dock to Janitzio
Pátzcuaro dock to Janitzio

Prices of taxis from the bus station to: Morelia (200 pesos), Uruapan ($200 pesos), Quiroga (90 pesos), Erongaricuaro (80 pesos). Frequent collectivos AKA combis connect centro Patzcuaro with nearby colonias and villages so that trip to Eronga[ricuaro] need only cost 9 pesos (Aug 2009=$.70US). Most connect at plaza chica.

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!


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