Patzcauro is a colonial town with an indigenous feel, located about 200km from Ixtapa and 53km from Morelia, the State capital of Michoacan. Patzcuaro is located besides Lake Patzcauro, at 2137metres above sea level surrounded by the volcanoes of Michoacan.
The Purepechan Indians, called Tarascans by the Spanish, settled in the valley around 1100 and were finally defeated by the Spanish in 1522, not so much by arms but their lack of immunity to Smallpox and Measles.
The Purepechan Empire was centred around Tzintzuntzan, meaning "the place of the hummingbirds". The ruins, semi circular platforms called Yacatas, are a few kilometres from Patzcuaro. Tzintzuntzan had about 40,000 residents and the city administered an Empire of about 1.5million people. They successfully resisted several invasions by the warlike Aztec Nation but were no match for European diseases.
Patzcuaro is well-known for its "Day of the Dead" festival celebrating the departed, held on Nov 1st and 2nd
The portraits below show the great strength of character etched into the faces of the Purepechan Indians of Patzcuaro
Behind the austere doors in the fascades of the buildings of Patzcuaro are hidden gems: beautiful patios, gardens and courtyard restaurants.
Ferry boats take visitors out to the island of Janitzio over the shallow silty Lake Patzcuaro past butterfly-net fishermen. A steep stairway through the village leads to the giant statue of the Mexican revolutionay, Jose Maria Morelos, which dominates the summit. Its interior has frescos depicting this revolutionary period.
The Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, named after the Spanish bishop, Don Vasco de Quiroga who arrived in Patzcuaro in 1536 to help the Purepechans, is bordered by lovely colonaded buildings with cafes and shops. The statue of the bishop in the centre of the square is shaded by magnificent pines and oaks.
To the north is another plaza, La Plaza de Gertudis Bocanegro, named for a local heroine who was executed by firing squad for supporting the Mexican Independence revolution. Here at the NE corner is the public Bocanegro Library, with its impressive mural by Juan O'Gorman, who depicted with his paint the history of the State of Michoacan.
Up the hill, a block east of the centre, is the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Salud, Patzcuaro's Patron Saint. It is here that Quiroga is buried and the Virgin, Nuestra Senora de la Salud is said to perform miracles.
The Sanctuary de Guadalupe, built in early X1X century, has an enormous belfry with scultures that depict the virtues of charity,temperance, fortitude and faith.
Close by is the Temple de San Francisco, built in the XV1 century, with important religious artworks that include an outstanding images of Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi.
The Templo y Colegio de la Compania de Jesus is close to the Basilica and was the headquarters of the Michoacan Diocese until 1566, after which it was converted to the Jesuit College of Patzcuaro.
The Antiguo Convento de Santa Catarina, now La Casa de Los Patios, built by the Dominican order in XV111 century, originally had eleven patios, now only five, and is a favourite for the tourist due to its numerous shops featuring quality regional arts and crafts.
Also, a block from the Basilica is the Museo de Artes Populares, said to be the first site of the first University in the Americas (1540) founded by Quiroga.
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Casa y Casita Mariposa,