In Morelia there are some very central restaurants and hotels that surround the cathedral and from which you can enjoy excellent views of the city from above. For the sake of space, we will focus on two of them, which are excellent viewpoints over the historic centre of Morelia. The first one is a restaurant, a perfect place to spend some time there while enjoying a quiet meal. But if you want to take advantage of a little more free time to visit other places in the city, choose without a doubt our second suggestion as it will allow you to enjoy beautiful views in a more dynamic way.
Our first suggestion is the restaurant La Azotea, and as its name suggests, it is located on the terrace on the top of a building that houses the Hotel Los Juanitos. From this restaurant you will not only be able to admire from above the beautiful pink quarry stone cathedral, one of the most impressive and visited in all of Mexico, but you will also have the historic centre of Morelia at your feet. Quietly seated in this restaurant, you will enjoy the view of the Plaza Melchor Ocampo, Madero Avenue and the main façade of the historic Government Palace, located in front of the cathedral. And all this while savouring the delicacies offered by this restaurant, expert in traditional Michoacan recipes, but also in Mexican cuisine in general and even international cuisine.
The second suggestion we suggest is to visit a café located very close to the previous restaurant, which will give us a panoramic view of Morelia identical to those offered by La Azotea, but without the need to eat an elaborate meal that may take time away from other things. This is El Campanario Café Bar II, a place where you can enjoy wonderful views while enjoying a simple coffee, a beer or a soft drink. It is a lighter option to recharge your batteries, having something quick and simple, while taking excellent panoramic photographs of Morelia.
La Azotea Restaurant (Hotel Los Juanitos)
Av. Morelos Sur 39
58000 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
El Campanario Café Bar II
Av. Morelos Sur 71
58000 Morelia, Michoacán, México
GASPACHO WITH AN "S"
It´s quite possible that so much travelling has given us an appetite, but the heat in Mexico will make us want to have something light. Besides, you should make the most of your time to get to know the beautiful capital of Michoacán. Let´s leave the copious meals for breakfast or dinner, and make the most of the day to try a fresh original delicacy from this land, which will allow us to save time while it refreshes us and fills us with vitamins. We are talking about Gaspacho Moreliano, a refreshing Mexican recipe that we write with an "s", unlike the typical Andalusian gazpacho, which is written with a "z".
Gaspacho Moreliano is a fresh and nutritious combination of jicama, mango and pineapple. Jicama, also known as Mexican turnip, is a tuberous root of a leguminous plant native to Mexico, which has a refreshing taste and is eaten as a fruit or vegetable. To make this mixture even more refreshing, orange juice is added, and as a finishing touch, cheese is added, resulting in a wonderful combination of sweet and sour flavours. The cheese used in the Gaspacho Moreliano is Cotija, typical of Michoacán and made from unpasteurised raw cow´s milk. To top off this Mexican cocktail, a dash of liquid chilli should be added to give it even more flavour. In Mexico, there are different chili sauces to choose from and the choice depends on the taste of the gaspaso makers. The amount of chilli to be added will depend on our love for spicy food, so, before the gaspacho is prepared, we should inform you if we like it spicy or not.
Some say that the Gaspacho Moreliano is a "botana", which is the name given to tapas in Mexico, and there will be many makers and sellers of this product who will assure us that they or their families have been the creators of such a refreshing recipe. There are also many different personalised versions, as other fruits, such as watermelon, can be used in the preparation of the Gaspacho Moreliano.
Remember... if during your visit to Morelia you wish to have something quick, refreshing, nutritious and cheap, ask for a Gaspacho Moreliano. The city centre has many places where they prepare it, especially around the cathedral. Drinking this vitamin-packed cocktail will allow us to recover our strength without wasting too much time, while we quench our hunger and, at the same time, our thirst.
NOBODY´S SWEET TOOTH IS BITTER
It´s time to go shopping! For this, Morelia has a place that is perfect for everyone and for all tastes, where everyone can find what they are looking for, either in the form of sweet flavours or typical crafts of the region. This is the Valentín Gómez Farias Market, more popularly known as the Sweets and Handicrafts Market, the perfect place if you want to enjoy the colours, flavours and smells of Morelia, and without a doubt, an essential visit for all lovers of the typical and the original.
If there is something that characterises Morelia, and the whole state of Michoacán, it is its delicious and varied sweets, as well as its elaborate and extensive handicrafts. In this typical regional market you will find the most typical and tasty sweets of the region, both to be eaten in the market itself and to take home as souvenirs or gifts. Crystallised fruits, cajeta, wafers, ates, dulce de leche, tamarind candy, guava rolls or metate chocolate are just some of the specialities that can be found here. And of course, you cannot miss the typical regional "rompopes", which are liqueurs of low alcoholic graduation and with creamy and sweet flavours, mainly vanilla and almond.
But that´s not all... In addition to the sweets, this market also offers the chance to enjoy the varied handicrafts produced in the small villages surrounding the capital. In this market you will find different articles made of various natural materials used over the centuries, such as glass, copper, wood, palm, thread, fabric, porcelain or lacquer, among others... They are handcrafted works made with patience and time, something almost lost in this frenetic society, and sometimes at truly derisory prices that do not correspond to the amount of work and tenacity that they entail. In addition to being the best place to shop because of its great variety, the stalls in this market offer their products at prices that are really affordable for any pocket due to the competition that exists between them.
The Sweets and Crafts Market of Morelia was born more than 50 years ago and is held daily in the Clavijero Palace, a beautiful 18th century building that once housed the Jesuit school. Do not hesitate to visit this emblematic market where you will have the opportunity to contemplate and buy the purest regional handicrafts while sweetening your life a little bit.
Sweets and Crafts Market (Palacio Clavijero)
Valentín Gómez Farias s/n
Historic Centre of Morelia
58000 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
If we talk about the Mecca of cinema, the image of enormous letters on the side of a hill will surely come to mind. But what does Hollywood have to do with Morelia? Quite a lot! With these gigantic letters, the legendary film district of the United States inaugurated a trend followed by many other cities, which consists of placing monumental letters that form the name of the city. These signs indicate where we are and, at the same time, serve as a souvenir in the form of a photograph that prevents us from forgetting the places we have visited. Thanks to these signs, we will have photographs that will remind us forever that we have been there.
Although nowadays these letters are very common in many parts of the world, perhaps Mexico is the country where they are at their peak and also where they began to be created on a massive scale. They are easy to find in every tourist spot and, thanks to the country´s colourful tradition, they are incredibly beautiful, sometimes even designed by famous artists!
Morelia is precisely one of the cities where we have found the largest number of these tourist attractions. Without going any further, we will find several of these beautiful postcards in the very centre and very close to the immense cathedral. It must be said that sometimes the letters are moved, but there are specific points where they always remain. These places are very well chosen so that in the photograph, in addition to the letters, there is also a monument of main interest.
In the Plaza Melchor Ocampo, located on the left side as we look at the main door of the cathedral, we will find one of these letter signs that provide a beautiful photograph with the cathedral behind it. And if we follow the avenue Francisco Madero, located at the foot of the cathedral itself, we will soon come across other letters that border the green and beautiful Plaza de Armas. On the other hand, a little further away from the cathedral but still in the centre, there is another sign with letters right at the point where the famous Fray Antonio de San Miguel street joins the aqueduct.
But there are even more lettering signs scattered around the city... Take a look for these beautiful Morelia lettering signs and take beautiful and colourful snapshots that will make us never forget our visit to this marvellous city!
BACK TO SCHOOL
During the colonial era, many buildings were constructed throughout the country. In fact, Morelia has more than a thousand of them, and many of them are catalogued of general interest for their architecture, their history or their particular beauty.
At this point, we are going to recommend a visit to the Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. Built during the 17th century in the viceregal period when Morelia was called Valladolid, the building has almost always had a teaching function, being in its origins one of the most important student centres in Colonial Mexico, or New Spain, as these American lands were then known. Nowadays, the college maintains its teaching function, as it is a preparatory school that is part of the University of Michoacán.
The original Colegio de San Nicolás was founded in Pátzcuaro, in the year 1540, by the first bishop of Michoacán, named Vasco de Quiroga. Later on, around the year 1630, this college moved to Morelia and joined the Colegio de San Miguel de Guayangareo, occupying the place where it still is today. During the events of the National Independence of Mexico, the college was temporarily closed, becoming a prison and military barracks, to be reopened again as a college in 1847 by Melchor Ocampo, lawyer and naturalist who became governor of Michoacán. The college, now in the hands of the state, was transformed into a secular centre of studies known then as Colegio Primitivo y Nacional de San Nicolás Hidalgo, in memory of Miguel Hidalgo, a national hero who not only studied in these premises, but also became a professor and rector of the college. Closed again in 1863 during the Second Empire, in 1867 the college was reopened and completely remodelled by Guillermo Woodon Sorinne, who gave it its present baroque appearance.
The building was declared a National Monument in 1930 and can be visited free of charge. It has a beautiful cloister surrounded by arches and in its garden we can see a monumental statue of Miguel Hidalgo, created by the sculptor Primitivo Miranda and whose pedestal was the work of the engineer Gustavo Roth. On the first floor, there are some outstanding mural paintings known as "The Defence of Sovereignty" and "The Constitution of Apatzingán", both works by the artist Fermín Revueltas, as well as the fresco "The Life of the Tarascan People", created by Marion Greenwood.
Also of great interest is the Melchor Ocampo Room, a room that houses books and objects of the lawyer-scientist after whom the room is named, in which, by the way, his heart also rests... In addition to Hidalgo, Ocampo himself also studied at this school...
Primitive and National College of San Nicolás de Hidalgo
351 Francisco I. Madero Poniente Ave.
Historic Centre of Morelia
58000 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
THE WHITE HAND ON THE FENCE
At the beginning of the beautiful and relaxing Calzada de Guadalupe, just at the point where it joins Francisco Madero Avenue, there is a colonial house that holds a very special story... It is the legend of "the Hand on the Grille". Do you want to know it?
During colonial era, Don Juan Núñez lived in this house, a man of a good family, but economically in decline. Don Juan lost his first wife just after giving birth to a beautiful daughter called Leonor. The girl, with big blue eyes and very white skin, inherited her mother´s beauty and kindness. Her father remarried Doña Margarita de Estrada, who, unlike Leonor, was rabid and, moreover, very ugly.
Doña Margarita, envying Leonor´s virtues, developed a terrible contempt for the beautiful and good girl. Her hatred became so excessive that she began to lock the young girl in the house, so that she could only do housework. He only let her out on Sundays to go to the Temple of San Diego, where Leonor cared for pilgrims and the sick. For this reason, the beautiful young woman came to be known as "the Angel of San Diego". It was there that Leonor met a military man called Don Manrique de la Serna, who fell in love with her.
Don Juan Núñez travelled a lot on business and, during these trips, Doña Margarita locked Leonor in a cellar. One day, Don Manrique went to the window of the cellar where Leonor was locked up to ask his lover if she felt the same way he did. So as not to fall prey to gossip, Don Manrique asked his servant to disguise himself as a friar, with a skull painted on his face, to scare away any passers-by near Leonor´s house. The trick worked and, for several nights, Don Manrique was able to see Leonor in peace through the cellar window. But one night, Doña Margarita discovered them...
In a fit of envy, Doña Margarita ordered her servants to lock the girl in the cellar for good and to close the window completely, even depriving her of food. On the other hand, Don Manrique had to leave the city without knowing of this event. But due to Doña Margarita´s haste, her servants left a small opening in the window through which the girl put out her hand begging for food and help. But no one heeded her pleas, as the passers-by were still frightened by the friar with the skull and believed that it was a ghost that was holding out its hand...
Don Juan and Don Manrique returned to Morelia at the same time. Not finding Leonor, they opened the cellar and found the young woman already dead. Doña Margarita was taken by the law and hanged to death. Filled with sadness, Don Manrique shrouded Leonor in her wedding dress and buried her in the Temple of San Diego.
In Morelia it is said that Leonor still continues to show her white hand through the basement window... Would you dare to go to this basement to investigate? It is a dark pink house located at the beginning of the Calzada de la Virgen de Guadalupe and its lower windows are flush with the street. It is unmistakable!
MORELIA’S ROMEO AND JULIET
The Cathedral of Morelia is a jewel not to be missed. Its imposing 66-metre high towers can be seen from almost anywhere in the city and represent an architectural masterpiece that is the master of the enormous blocks of pink ashlar stone that leave no one indifferent. But besides all its artistic beauties, this magnificent cathedral keeps some legends... Here we are going to tell you one of these stories, which is known as "the Legend of the Sacristan of the Cathedral of Morelia". Let us begin...
The story goes that a beautiful young woman called Doña Marta Jimena de Montserrat, Countess of Linares and niece of the Viceroy, moved to Morelia. Due to an indisposition in her state of health, the doctors thought that the climate of this city would favour her recovery. Doña Marta was very dear to her uncle, the viceroy, as she was an orphan. The young woman arrived at the cathedral of the capital of Michoacán, then the city of Valladolid, where she was received with great pomp and circumstance. In charge of receiving her, the sacristan Pedro González y Domínguez was automatically captivated by her enormous beauty and fell in love with her instantly. Mad with passion, he wrote her a letter...
One day, at the entrance to mass, the two of them bumped into each other. At that moment, a devotional book fell from the hands of the beautiful young woman and the sacristan hastily picked it up from the floor, taking advantage of the incident to write his love note in the booklet. At first, the girl was indifferent, but one day, while receiving Communion, she saw tears running down the sacristan´s cheek and suddenly felt love for him too. So she left her ring in the offering basket to make her love known to the sacristan.
But unbridled love sometimes has social obstacles, and even more so in those times? How could a sacristan, with his poor position, meet the expectations of the family of a viceroy´s niece? On several occasions, the lovers met secretly in the Cathedral´s Chapel of the Souls, to which she always brought flowers for the souls in pain. To settle this difficult and compromising situation, Doña Marta decided to return to Spain in order to ask the king for a noble title for the sacristan.
After five months, Pedro González received a mandate from the king to go to Veracruz and the sacristan thought that he would find his beloved back there. But that was not to be... Once in Veracruz, the king informed Pedro of Doña Marta´s death and appointed him intendant of Nueva Galicia, a post Pedro refused, returning immediately to Valladolid. There, the desolate lover grew old, taking refuge in the Chapel of the Souls, always crying...
They say that, on the eve of the Night of the Dead, you can see in this chapel the shadow of the enamoured sacristan, whose soul wanders eternally through the cathedral while he waits for his beloved...
WALKING TO THE AQUEDUCT
We are going to propose a walk that connects the cathedral with the impressive aqueduct of the city. The walk will only take about 15 minutes on foot, or a little less if we push the pace a little. However, it can take much longer if you stop along the way, as there are many places along this easy route where you can stop to visit or simply take a few photos.
If we cross the street in front of the main door of the cathedral, which is Francisco Madero Avenue, we will find the beautiful Government Palace. If you have the time, don´t settle for a photograph of its beautiful main façade, but take a look inside. This palace was inaugurated in 1770 as the Tridentine Seminary of San Pedro, a centre where celebrities such as Morelos or the naturalist Ocampo studied when they were young. Its function as a seminary lasted until it became the seat of the Government of Michoacán in the middle of the 19th century. The building is in the baroque tablerado style, typical of the city, and has a symmetrical exterior façade. As soon as you enter, you are greeted by a beautiful courtyard with a high two-storey arcade and a mural by Alfredo Zalce narrating the history of Michoacán. This palace has unbeatable views of the front of the cathedral.
Facing the front of the palace and leaving the cathedral behind us, we follow Avenida Francisco Madero to the right, a street lined with numerous restaurants and other services. As we walk along the avenue, the Templo de la Cruz (Temple of the Cross) will appear on the right-hand side, followed by the Templo de las Monjas (Temple of the Nuns), both of which can be visited. After about 12 minutes walking along this avenue, we will see on our left the Plaza Villalongín, a beautiful green space that forms a popular local park. To our right, we can see the famous Fountain of the Tarascas, a monument depicting three women with naked torsoes holding a gigantic tray full of fruit. From this point, we can already see the magnificent Morelia Aqueduct and also the beginning of the Calzada de Fray Antonio de San Miguel, the beautiful tree-lined street that leads to the Temple of San Diego, also known as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as we have seen in a previous point.
The Aqueduct of Morelia is really fascinating. It is one of the most important in Mexico and has a total length of 1700 metres and 253 arches with a maximum height of 9.3 metres. Before this aqueduct, there was another one in Morelia that was substituted by the present one in 1785. This work was carried out thanks to Bishop Antonio de San Miguel, who gave his name to the promenade that begins at the aqueduct.
You can return to the cathedral from this point by following the same path. We advise you to walk the 15 minutes in one go, until you reach the Fountain of the Tarascas and the Aqueduct, and on the way back, stop at the aforementioned temples. Both this walk and the aforementioned monuments are well worth it!
WHERE OLD WAGONS USED TO PASS...
If you want to relax in a place with a lot of history and where time seems to have stood still, we advise you to go to Calzada Fray Antonio de San Miguel, a street also popularly known as Calzada de Guadalupe or Calle San Diego.
This street has its origins in the colonial period of the XVII century, in the times when Morelia was called Valladolid. It was in the XVIII century, specifically in the year 1732, when Bishop Juan José Escalona y Calatayud improved this street. The name Guadalupe comes from the road that linked the historic centre with the now disappeared Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe, on the site of which the Temple of San Diego was built. This temple, which is better known as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is still very much visited by pilgrims coming from all over the state of Michoacan, from the Mexican Republic in general, and even from all over the world. It is one of the most visited places on the 12th of December, the feast of the Virgin, a date on which thousands of people can be seen walking on their knees carrying a cross or the image of the patron saint of Mexico, to whom they ask for a favour or thank her for some petition.
This roadway, which was originally used by horse or donkey-drawn carts and carriages, was definitively transformed at the end of the 18th century by Friar Antonio de San Miguel, from whom it takes its official name. It was in this second stage, which took place while the city was still part of the colony, when the very long quarry stone benches were installed and when the floor was paved with tiles of the same material. The ash trees were also planted at that time, many of which still flank the street and provide a delightful shade for tourists looking for a quiet, cool place to recover from all the sightseeing and walking.
This long and beautiful promenade is surrounded by beautiful 18th and 19th century summer houses, as well as being specially designed for relaxation. It is a perfect place to sit and rest or read and to watch the most colourful people walking in front of us.
Fray Antonio de San Miguel Avenue
Historic Centre of Morelia
58000 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
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