Founded in the mid-1500’s, the first settlers were Spanish nobility and religious orders, who laid out a city of magnificent palaces, convents and churches along flagstone avenues and beautiful plazas. It really reminds me of Madrid and is worth a visit. Founded by the first viceroy of New Spain, it was named Valladolid but then changed to Morelia after Independence in honor of the hero Morelos. Today it is Mexico’s sixth largest city.
Make sure you see the Plaza de los Martires or Plaza of the Martyrs, in the center of town, with its huge Cathedral built between 1660 and 1774 and the other gorgeous public buildings. This area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For Folk Art lovers, the Museo de Artesanias de Michoacan is a must. It is at Fray Juan de San Miguel #129. There is a nice Casa de las Artesanias store there and also at Guillermo Prieto #35.
To stay in Morelia, the Villa Montana is really wonderful. The rooms are great and the views of downtown are wonderful. It is a short 15 minute cab ride from downtown.
I have eaten downtown on the main square in the cafe of the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza and really want to stay there next time to avoid having to get back and forth to the hotel. It looks great! The building was the former palace of the Spanish Viceroys.
If you are there during the winter months, make sure to arrange a trip to the El Rosario or Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries. These are the homes to nearly 100 million Monarch butterflies who migrate from the northern US and Canada. November through February are the months to visit.
The butterflies cover the branches of the tall green oyamel trees. The sight is supposed to be magnificent. There is concern that the deforesting of this tree may cause a drop in their habitat. So I would go now before the numbers of butterflies decline.