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Attractions in Morelia, Mexico: What to do and where to go
Morelia is a gorgeous tourist destination that has preserved its colonial feel over the centuries, and kept the elegance of its magnificent buildings and churches. The distinctive color of its beautiful constructions, made unmistakably of solid quarry stone, has earned it the nickname of "Ciudad Rosa" (The Pink City).
But apart from the beautiful colonial buildings made of pink quarry stone, one of the most popular of Morelia's attractions is the unsurpassable natural spectacle that brings tourists from all over the world to this place, year after year: the arrival of the Monarch butterfly. On the outskirts of the city you will find one of the main refuges for this beautiful specimen, which struggles for survival on a titanic journey that starts in Canada and the northern United States and concludes here in Morelia.
Originally constructed by order of Bishop Fray Antonio de San Miguel in 1785, the aqueduct was used to provide the fountains and convents of the city with water, as well as a source of employment for the native people. It has a beautiful baroque style, 253 arches and is an icon in the city. The current masonry structure dates mainly from the 18th century.
Morelia's Cathedral is a colossal building made of pink quarry stone with towers almost 230-feet high, a triple facade with an altarpiece and three interior patios adorned with impressive murals. The construction was started in 1660 and finished in 1744 and the interior features an amazing pipe organ from the beginning of the century, with 4,600 flutes. There are also valuable paintings and an image of the Lord of the Sacristy, made in the 16th century.
Since 1930, the Public Library, of the Michoacan's University of San Nicolas de Hidalgo, has been located in what used to be the Temple of the Society of Jesus. Its baroque style construction dates back to the 17th century and it is one of the most important attractions in Morelia.
Morelia's Conventions Center
Surrounded by green areas, a planetarium, a library, a hotel, a comfortable theater, an exhibition area and 9 event halls, Morelia's Convention Center is, without a doubt, excellent for business tourism. Morelia's Convention Center is just 10 minutes away from the historic center and it's linked by means of the two main avenues in the city.
"Las Tarascas" Fountain
The fountain of Las Tarascas is located in the historic center of Morelia and represents the fertility of the state of Michoacan. It depicts 3 indigenous women holding up a traditional basket full of regional fruits. This fountain has become one of the main iconic symbols of the city.
Antique Collections Museum
The Antique Collections Museum holds temporary exhibitions about the world's most startling, unusual, and impressive themes. The building, dating from the 17th century, is constantly visited by people curious about the history held inside its walls. This large house is over 300 years old, and before being used as a museum, it was abandoned for about 75 years. Most of the current construction is still in the same condition that it was after being abandoned, with some minor remodeling only to maintain the facilities' functionality.
The museum also features a shopping arcade for collectors, with antiques and other items such as tables, chairs, chests, pictures, books, clocks, sacred art, and clay objects. The museum keeps a photo album about the strange, extraordinary events that have happened here. People looking for excitement and those without a heart condition may want to visit the museum at night and take some pictures. Don't be surprised if you discover something strange when checking your photos... that's indeed included in the price of your ticket!
This building was originally used for the Valladolid Tridentine Seminar, and was finally finished in 1770. Currently it is the head office of the state Government, and has been since 1867. Inside it is easy to appreciate Morelia's elegant, strong architectural styles. There are also 3 murals by the artist Alfredo Zalce, who was born in Michoacan and in these murals different episodes in Mexico's history are immortalized.
What is now the City Council was originally a warehouse, from where tobacco was controlled and sold. Then after the Independence, in 1859, the Federal Government seized it and started using it as their headquarters. Its octagonal patio really is one of Morelia's architectural jewels.
There are different types of tram and bus rides in Morelia, which visit different points of interest in the city. They normally leave from the historic center, next to the Cathedral, visit the most important buildings in Morelia and tell the passengers the history behind each of the monuments. One tram ride ends at the Museo del Dulce (the Museum of the Candy), a delicious stop where visitors can see the traditional candy making techniques and acquire some samples.
You will also find double-decker buses open air buses which is an excellent option if you want to feel the fresh breeze on your face and have an excellent view when visiting the wonderful Historic Centre of Morelia, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
"Felipe Rivera" Planetarium
The planetarium has a capacity for 365 people; its contemporary design features a hemispheric dome 65 feet in diameter mimicking the core of a comet with an 8-corner star in the center. The dome acts as a screen for the 164 projectors that reproduce the sidereal movements of the stars.
Sanctuary of our Lady of Guadalupe
Located on the border of the Historic Center in Morelia, in the eastern part of the city, the magnificent Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an imposing church considered one of the five most beautiful temples in Mexico. The Sanctuary is connected to a public square through a 300-meter cobblestone pathway, which is surrounded by colonial houses and lush vegetation which leads you to the temple.
Although the facade features a plain baroque style, the interior of the temple is quite an astonishing spectacle. The splendid decoration combines both the use of clay by the indigenous people, and fine European work in plaster. The magnificent decoration boasts thousands of leaves and flowers on walls, domes, and vaults, resulting in a stunning mix of phenomenal reds, pink and golden colors.
Tres Marias Golf Club
The only LPGA certified golf course in Morelia boasts 18 Nicklaus Signature holes plus 9 Nicklaus Design holes. The 27 holes are located throughout a spectacular sloping course in the most exclusive area of Morelia, and feature stunning panoramic views of the city. The Tres Marias Golf Club is by far the most renowned golf course in the state of Michoacan, with luxurious facilities and an extraordinary club house. Elegant dining areas, bars, and lounges; a games room with pool tables; tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; soccer fields; swimming pools, spa, gym, sauna, steam room, equestrian club, and polo field all complement the golf club. Although the access is restricted to members and their guests, Tres Marias Golf Club has agreements with several hotels in Morelia so that visitors can enjoy a round when staying in Morelia.
Patzcuaro is one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico, and is home to colossal temples, the spectacular Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, beautiful constructions of adobe and tile and it is one of the main tourist centers in the Mexican Republic. During the pre-Hispanic era it was an important ceremonial center for the Purepechas tribe and even today, the surrounding areas are inhabited by native groups that still preserve their traditions. Its fishermen are famous due to the butterfly-shaped nets they use to catch the delicious white fish that distinguishes the gastronomy of the state of Michoacan. Paztcuaro is located only 33 miles away from the city of Morelia.
Janitzio is a quaint island located only 20 minutes away from Patzcuaro's dock and it is where a 130-feet tall monument in honor to Don Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon stands proud in the center. The native communities who inhabit this beautiful place still preserve their ancient customs. One of the most famous customs is the Night of the Dead; during this celebration all the fishermen sail out with their butterfly-shaped nets and decorate their boats with candles.
The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
When you visit Michoacan you should not miss the chance of visiting the Oyamel forests and witness one of the most spectacular natural events there is: the arrival of the Monarch butterfly, which occurs each year at the end of October. The Monarch butterfly spends all winter in these forests in colonies of up to 20 million, after a journey of more than 3000 miles from the frontier of Canada and the United States, when the high temperatures allow them to grow and reproduce. In October, the fast drop of the temperature forces them to fly to warmer climes.
During their long trip, these butterflies look for ascendant currents of air to take advantage of and just glide, they only flap their wings when they loose the wind or when they need to change courses. With this technique of flight, the Monarch butterfly travels an approximate distance of 75 miles per day until it gets to Michoacan. In mid-February, the Monarch butterfly starts to mate, and finally in the first days of March, large groups of butterflies lift off simultaneously, flapping their wings with a breathtaking sound, to find a current of ascendant air and begin the journey back home.
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