Attractions in Patzcuaro, Mexico: What to do and where to go
As the old kings of the Purepechas stated, Patzcuaro and its surrounding areas are filled with lovely landscapes, places that may make you think that you are on the way to paradise. This makes it easy to find sites worthy of mythical stories and legends to set your imagination flying and deserve to be known. All this, plus excellent weather, make Patzcuaro an extraordinary center of attraction that warrants a visit.
Among some of the main attractions, you can find various churches and convents that are some of the oldest in the country. There are also archeological sites, boat trips on the lake to the different islands or to the wooded areas, which feature a magic of their own. You can also take advantage of the trips where you can see the most representative handicrafts of the region being made, such as wrought ironwork, finely molded copper items, colorful masks, charming wooden toys, skillfully made sculptures with a style that is characteristic of Mexican artisan work, difficult to find in any other place in the world. With the number of attractions, it is totally worth taking out the time to get to know Patzcuaro.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Health
This is the main church in Patzcuaro. It houses a 16th century icon of Nuestra Senora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health), the patron saint of the region, in the form of a sculpture made with an age-old technique using corn stalk paste that is really worth learning about. The building has received various renovations since it was first built but the architect in turn follows the Byzantine style, with a simple facade and very few adornments. Visit this temple and discover its incredible history.
The Museum of Popular Art and Industry
Originally built as a special school for novices and to teach the indigenous arts and basic sciences, this edifice was the first school that existed in the Americas. Filled with history, the museum houses a fantastic collection of works of art with special finishes such as lacquer (known locally as ''laca'' and ''maque'') and the varnished bowls called ''peribanes,'' which are true handicraft treasures. The floor of the museum is made of bones of cows and sandstone, which contribute to the mysteriousness of the building, making for a more interesting visit.
House of the Eleven Patios
Here you can find artisans making tablecloths and lacquer ware with an expert touch, on a daily basis. These items can be bought at excellent prices or you can just come and admire the pieces. The conservative architectural design defined the encloistered life that the Dominican nuns of Santa Catarina lived. It was originally built as a convent and was later converted into a hospital. This is a site filled with magic and history.
Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
This plaza is considered one of the most beautiful in the Americas and is definitely one of the largest. In contrast to other such plazas, this one has no church flanking any of the sides. Instead, there are houses, stores and the town hall. Also, everyday, a group of dancers, play here the ''Dance of the Elder'' (Danza de los viejitos), one of the main attractions of the state of Michoacan. This plaza is a characteristic monument of Patzcuaro so be sure to include it in your sightseeing itinerary.
Temple of San Francisco
The Temple of San Francisco is one of the oldest churches in the city, where a 16th century figure of Christ (made of cane paste) is venerated. There are many legends about this figure and they're worth hearing about. There are also beautiful oil paintings that show important figures of the Franciscan order. The door of the church is also an important attraction because it is one of many beautiful examples of the Renaissance art that exists in the city.
Convent of San Agustin
In this beautiful 16th century building, there is a famous mural that was painted by Juan O'Gorman, depicting important historical moments of the state. The mural is among some of the main tourist attractions of Patzcuaro, others of which include the Main Public Library, located in what was the Agustin Church. What was once a monastery is now the beautiful Theater Caltzontzin, which constantly offers different plays and concerts. It is also a venue for the Cervantino Festival of Art as well as for the Morelia Film Festival.
This lovely town is located at Km. 18, going from Patzcuaro, where on the shores of the lake sat the home of Andre Breton, one of the main representatives of surrealism. Erongaricuaro is known for it fine wooden furniture production and its colorful mats, products that are exported to different countries around the world. Visit the picturesque artisan workshops, the beautiful Franciscan Temple and Convent and many other artistic and historic marvels.
Zacapu was the first Purepecha settlement, which can be observed in the ruins called ''Las Iglesias'' (The Churches), found on the mountain. You can also visit various water park resorts and natural springs, such as La Alberca de los Espinos (The Pool of the Thornbush), formed from the crater of a volcano. This town is filled with sanctuaries, temples and convents that possess incredible stories that are worthy of being remembered and are defined for its transcendence, not only in the state but throughout all of Mexico.
It is the most famous island of the lake of Patzcuaro, internationally known for is multicolored and picturesque aspect. It is also known as being the birthplace of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, one of the heroes of Mexican Independence, as well as the site of the monument and museum in his honor. It is found on the highest point of the island, where you can enjoy the view of various towns on the shores of the lake. It's worth a visit during the first couple of days of November, when the Day of the Dead is celebrated, offering a series of interesting activities, local festive customs and traditions.
Former capital of the Purepecha kingdom can be appreciated from the archeological site called Las Yacata, as well as in the town of Ihuatzio, which is a few kilometers away. The name of this town means ''the place of hummingbirds'' and it is one of the most important artisan markets in the region. It is right next to the Franciscan Convent and the olive garden that it is famous for, another part of the list of attractions of this town.
This archaeological site offers structures that reflect a style that is older than the Purepecha influence, very similar to that of Teotihuacan. This site, however, was abandoned nearly six centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. Tingambato is located west of Patzcuaro, close to the city of Uruapan. The ruins feature a ball court, two plazas with sites for worship and a tomb, which holds innumerous mysteries and a fantastic adventure for all travelers.
Cascade La Tzararacua
Located on the River Cupatitzio (which also provides water for Uruapan), this lovely cascade channels through about 8,000 liters of water per second from a 50 meter drop and it is a very important attraction in Michoacan. It is located 50 kilometers from Patzcuaro and there are a series of eco-tourist activities such as rappel, camping, hiking, horseback riding and zip-lining. Enjoy the view of pine forests and a mountain circling the ravine. Ask about the tours to this beautiful site, which is well worth the visit.
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