With a consistent colonial-style throughout, Morelia is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It is not really on the well-trodden path of the leisure tourists and so you can walk around in comfort without fear of the bermuda shorts crowds. Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacan in Mexico and it is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site.

Info Morelia


Morelia is a city and municipality in the north central part of the state of Michoacán in central Mexico. The city is in the Guayangareo Valley and is the capital and largest city of the state.

The main pre-Hispanic cultures here were the Purépecha and the Matlatzinca, but no major cities were founded in the valley during this time. The Spanish took control of the area in the 1520s. The Spanish under Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza founded a settlement here in 1541 with the name of Valladolid, which became rival to the nearby city of Pátzcuaro for dominance in Michoacán. In 1580, this rivalry ended in Valladolid’s favor and it became the capital of the colonial province.

After the Mexican War of Independence, the city was renamed Morelia in honor of José María Morelos, who hailed from the city. In 1991, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well preserved colonial buildings and layout of the historic center.

POPULATION :• Total 729,279
• Seat 597,511
FOUNDED : Founded 1541
Municipal Status 1831
TIME ZONE :Time zone CST (UTC−6)
Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
LANGUAGE :  Spanish
ELEVATION : 1,920 m (6,300 ft)
COORDINATES : 19°46′06″N 101°11′22″W
SEX RATIO : Male: 48.5%
 Female: 51.5%
POSTAL CODE : 58000 - 58297


With a consistent colonial-style throughout, Morelia is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It is not really on the well-trodden path of the leisure tourists and so you can walk around in comfort without fear of the bermuda shorts crowds. Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacan in Mexico and it is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. There are at least two "information" booths in the area of the square. They are staffed with multilingual students who are very helpful.

Morelia is the capital city of Michoacan. It serves government and many students attending school there. The central business district is very clean with plenty of places to eat and shop. Tourists are not as common here as some other areas of Mexico. You may want to load up on pesos before ordering food or trying to make a purchase, as foreign currency is not widely accepted. There are money changer stalls on the side streets off of the square.

It has a decent climate, nice parks to relax in, lots of places to get stuff, and very nice place over all. If you stay downtown, most of the attractions like the Cathedral, the square, museums, and shopping, are all pretty much within walking distance. Due to Morelia's location, being a college town and center of State Government, tourist are not as common as some other areas of Mexico. The People are very friendly. In the central business district, drivers use their horns 24 hours a day to excess, prodding other drivers and to give notice at the numerous blind intersections. You will get used to it, but request a room away from the street.

Morelia is more than just the Downtown. Its outlying areas feature modern housing developments, shopping centers and parks. Tres Marias and Altozano are ultra-modern newest residential areas.


Human settlements in the Guayangareo Valley in which Morelia is located have been dated back as far as the 7th century. Artifacts found here have shown Teotihuacán culture influence on early cultures in this area. In the 12th century, the Purépecha arrived in the valley. They dominated it politically for the rest of the pre-Hispanic period but did not build any major settlements here. Between the 12th and the 15th century, Matlatzincas moved into the area with permission of the Purépechas, who were based around nearby Pátzcuaro Lake. The main Matlatzinca settlement was where Júarez Plaza in the city is today.

The Spanish pushed into the Guayangareo Valley between 1525 and 1526, headed by Gonzalo Gómez. In the 1530s, the area was evangelized by Franciscans such as Juan de San Miguel and Antonio de Lisboa.

What would become the city of Morelia was founded by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and a number of encomenderos in 1541, who first named it Nueva Ciudad de Mechuacan (New City of Michoacán). The newly founded settlement grew quickly, prompting Vasco de Quiroga to go to Spain and procure for rival settlement Pátzcuaro the title of city and a seal, to prevent “new city” from becoming the capital of Michoacán. The action also required that the new settlement change its name to Guayangareo . In 1545, Guayangareo gained city status from Charles V in 1545 with the name of Valladolid, after the hometown of Antonio de Mendoza. This was part of a power struggle between Antonio de Mendoza and Vasco de Quiroga over the province of Michoacán. During Quiroga’s lifetime, he managed to keep political and ecclesiastical power in Pátzcuaro despite the viceroy’s and encomenderos’ objections. However, Quiroga died in 1565. By 1580, both political and religious authority  had been transferred to the city of Valladolid, moving the College of San Nicolás, which Vasco founded and laying the groundwork for establishing a new cathedral for the province.

The 17th century saw growth for Valladolid, with the construction of the cathedral and aqueduct. The cathedral was begun in 1640 (finished in 1744) and the aqueduct in 1657. During the 17th century, many of the city’s large churches and monasteries were established, such as the monasteries of San Francisco, San Agustin, El Carmen and La Merced as well as the convents of Las Rosas, Las Monjas and Capuchinas. Churches include La Compañía, San Juan and La Cruz, but the most important structure built during this time period was the Cathedral. The location of this cathedral defined the composition and development of the city from then on.

At the end of the colonial period, Valladolid was a small city with about 20,000 inhabitants. It was also an educational center with four important schools such as the College of San Nicolás. These schools would turn out scholars such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos y Pavón, who were sympathetic to the new republican ideas coming out of post-revolution France and United States. Demonstrations against Spanish rule had been occurring in the town in 1809, culminating in the Conspiracy of 1809. This plot was discovered, with the main conspirators were arrested and sent to other parts of New Spain, which helped to spread republican ideas.

One year later, after forming his army in Guanajuato state, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla arrived and took over the city, proclaiming the end of slavery in Mexico. The city was taken back by royalist forces soon after. Morelos came here to try and dislodge the royalists but was defeated by Agustín de Iturbide. Another prominent figure in the war, Mariano Matamoros was shot by firing squad on the city’s main square in 1814. The city remained in royalist hands until 1821, Iturbide, who had switched sides, and Vicente Guerrero entered the city with the Trigarante Army.

In 1828, the newly created state of Michoacán changed the name of the city from Valladolid to Morelia, in honor of José María Morelos y Pavón. This is the official name it retains today, although its Purépecha name remains Uaianarhio and has had nicknames such as City of Pink (Cantera) Stone, the City of Open Doors, The Rose of the Winds, The Garden of New Spain and religiously as Morelia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The city became a municipality in 1831.

The later 19th century is marked by struggles between liberal and conservatives forces in Mexico. During the Revolution of Ayutla, the city was taken by rebel forces under Epitacio Huerta and General García Pueblita, but was taken back in 1855 by forces under Antonio López de Santa Anna. Rebels attacked Santa Anna’s troops again a year later. French troops imposing imperial rule entered the city in 1863, with the republican forces moving capital of Michoacán to Uruapan while conservative families in Morelia pledged support for emperor Maximilian I, who then visited the city. In 1867, the city is taken by republican general Nicolás de Régules and the capital of Michoacán returned to Morelia. In 1869, during a rebellion against Benito Juárez’s government, General Epitacio Huerta attacked government positions in the city but were beaten back by forces under Mariano Escobedo.

The first factories were opened in the city between 1868 and 1870, along with the first telegraph line. The railroad followed in 1883, as well as street cars.

In 1910, celebrations are held for the centennial of Independence but tensions are high in the city due to the shortage of grain and the continuation of PresidentPorfirio Diaz in power. One year later, revolutionaries loyal to Francisco I. Madero are welcomed into the city. In 1914, the capital was moved from Morelia to the city of Tacámbaro. The city was then taken by forces under General Sánchez in the same year, and by forces loyal to Francisco Villa in 1915.

In 1920, the Palace of the State Government was briefly taken over by farm workers and others from all over the state. Isaac Arriaga is assassinated here in 1921. The city is attacked again by rebels calling themselves “Delahuertistas” in 1924. The fight mostly occurs in the main plaza with the city defended by General Lopez, Garcia and Avila Camacho.

During the 1960s the street vendors were removed from the historic center of the city, and palm trees that lined the Avenida Madero, the main east-west road, were cut down. In 1966, there was a student revolt at the state university which was put down by the army.

The 1970s and 1980s are marked by construction including the Periferico bypass ring around the city. During the 1980s, damage due to geographic faults, exacerbated by falling water tables from groundwater pumping is noticed. This problem is similar to problems faced by other cities on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt such as Querétaro and Mexico City.

In 1991, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well preserved colonial architecture. In 2001, street vendors were moved again from the historic center to make the area more tourist-friendly. Traffic was rerouted from here as well with the construction of new bypasses. In 2006 and 2007, many of the plazas and gardens in the historic center were remodeled.

In 2009, the Morelia metropolitan area was tentatively established as consisting of the municipalities of Zinapécuaro, Álvaro Obregón, Charo, Tarímbaro and Morelia. This initial determination was made by the Secretary of Urbanism and Environment, with further refinements to be made as the municipal presidents of these entities meets to discuss limits, strategies and further actions. One of these actions has been to establish a formal commission to administer the area.


Under the Köppen climate classification, Morelia has a Subtropical highland climate, Cwb. With warm-to-hot days and cool nights year round due to its high altitude. Most precipitation falls during the summer rainy season. Average monthly temperatures are between 14 and 22°C, with maximum temperatures of 38.5°C in the early summer.

Climate data for Morelia

Record high °C (°F)35.0
Average high °C (°F)23.8
Daily mean °C (°F)14.5
Average low °C (°F)5.2
Record low °C (°F)−4.4
Source #1: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional


As municipal seat, the city of Morelia is the governing authority of 423 other communities, almost all of which are small communities of between three and 1,000 people. 89% of the municipalities 684,145 people in the city itself . The municipality covers a territory of 1,199.02km2 and borders the municipalities of Tarímbaro,Chucándiro, Huaniqueo, Charo, Tzitzío,Villa Madero, Acuitzio, Lagunillas, Coeneo, Tzintzuntzan and Quiroga.

Internet, Comunication

Buy a Telemex Ladatel prepaid calling card. They are available in many places, including convenience stores and bus station kiosks, and can be used in pay phones throughout Mexico. Using the cards can result in substantial savings, and is a sure way to prevent overcharging that can occur with collect or credit card calls. Ladatel cards are available many places on the square.

Prices in Morelia



Milk1 liter$0.80
Tomatoes1 kg$0.80
Cheese0.5 kg$2.50
Apples1 kg$1.50
Oranges1 kg$0.65
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$0.95
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$6.50
Coca-Cola2 liters$1.15
Bread1 piece$0.80
Water1.5 l$0.70



Dinner (Low-range)for 2$11.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$21.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$38.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$4.25
Water0.33 l$0.50
Cappuccino1 cup$1.80
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$2.55
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$1.10
Coca-Cola0.33 l$0.65
Coctail drink1 drink$3.40



Cinema2 tickets$7.00
Gym1 month$40.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$4.00
Theatar2 tickets$18.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.08
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$2.60



Antibiotics1 pack$7.00
Tampons32 pieces$3.35
Deodorant50 ml.$2.50
Shampoo400 ml.$2.45
Toilet paper4 rolls$1.45
Toothpaste1 tube$1.30



Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$48.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$37.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$74.00
Leather shoes1$71.00



Gasoline1 liter$0.74
Taxi1 km$0.30
Local Transport1 ticket$0.38

Tourist (Backpacker)  

35 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

100 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By bus

Deluxe buses serve Morelia from all parts of the Republic, and Morelia's state-of-the-art bus station, located in the northern part of the city. The bus station consists of separate terminals for first-class and second-class buses. It is easy to reach Morelia from either Mexico City or Guadalajara. The bus trip from Guadalajara is about 4 1/2 hours and from Mexico City is 4 hours, depending on the company. You can also reach Morelia from the United States by way of Greyhound.

Transportation - Get In

By car

Morelia is accessible by a modern toll road, and is located equidistant from Guadalajara and Mexico City, is about 3 1/2 hours driving. There are plenty of gas stations along the way with restrooms and food. Be prepared with change/pesos to pay tolls the cost may vary depending of the route you take, from Mexico City is about 500 pesos one way. It is a very scenic trip, to say the least.

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Morelia has a relatively new, modern airport at the edge of town. Going to the city center takes about a half hour. Book the taxi within the terminal and take the ticket to the taxi area.

There are daily International flights from LAX, IAH and ORD and scheduled flights from SFO, SJC, SFM, which lead to MLM, Morelia's international airport, as do commuter flights from GDL, MEX, BJX and TIJ.


Transportation - Get Around

Buses, combis and taxis form Morelia’s public transport.

Combis are a good way to see the smaller roads and backstreets of the city. Various destinations are usually indicated on the windshield of these mini-vans. As of November 2011 a ride within the city costs 6 pesos. Get in, grab a handle and sit down before the driver speeds off, and then give your money directly to the driver, or to someone else to pass to the driver for you (you can ask the person “Si no le molesta, por favor”, basically, “thanks, if you don’t mind”). Above your head you will find a buzzer to get out at the next corner, or you can simply ask “en la próxima ezquina, por favor” (next corner please). It is very common for people to greet other passengers when boarding, according to the time of day (“Buenos días”, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches”).

Taxis are also plentiful and inexpensive, operating on zone fares. As elsewhere in Mexico, make sure to determine the price before getting into the taxi.

Driving in the City is not easy, but with patience you can. Drivers use their horns to excess, to prod others and at the numerous blind intersections. The Centro Histórico is plagued by lack of parking. Driving in and around Morelia differs little from driving in any urban area. However, there is an “uno y uno” protocol in place. Drivers are actually quite respectful and obey this “one and one” rule, where — in stark contrast to Mexico City — at an intersection, you do not simply charge into any space larger than 5 cm, but fall into line, with one vehicle at a time from each direction driving through the intersection.






Casa de Artesanias is located on Plaza San Francisco. Reserve your shopping until you visit there, this is where the local artists display their wares.

The Mercado de Dulces was created about thirty years ago, and it features candy as well as inexpensive souvenirs. The Museo de Dulces, located on Av. Madero between the Cathedral and the Tarascan Fountain is definitely worth a stop. More than just a museum, it contains a coffee shop and offers the widest variety of candies as well as demonstrations of candy-making.


Morelia is one of the most exciting places in Mexico for innovative yet traditionally based cuisine. Avoid chain restaurants in Morelia because the wealth of outstanding restaurants not only offer unique regional flavors found nowhere else in Mexico, they are shockingly affordable for the quality they deliver.

Regional dishes unique to Morelia and surrounding Michoacan include:

  • Sopa Tarasca: Smoothly pureed bean soup base spiced with piquant dried chiles and swirled with a touch of slightly soured creme mexicana, it’s a bean soup that will change the way you think of bean soup. Similar to Sopa Azteca.
  • Enchiladas Morelianas: Enchiladas in Morelia are nothing like enchiladas in any other part of Mexico. In Morelia, they’re based on chicken and potatoes, but they explode with rich flavor from a slow, deep-seated chile spiciness and deep red color that comes from the careful use of guajilla chile.


Some chains like Subway and Burger King are present on the square and throughout the city, for those who prefer to avoid culinary adventure. The dining room on the 3rd floor above the department store on the square is interesting to visit and has very good food. In the tourist and historic centre, many restaurants may have an English menu available. Be prepared to pay in pesos.

As usual, to get the best authentic Mexican food at authentic prices, you will need to leave the core centre. Here are a few good taquerías that are well known to locals (and for good reason!).

  • Taquería del Infierno offers fantastic food with very rapid service. Many plates come with a roasted onion (cebolla asada), but if yours doesn’t, make sure to ask for an “orden de cebollitas”. Tacos and quesadillas starting at 7 pesos. Av. Lázaro Cárdenas No. 2630, Chapultepec Sur. [www]
  • Taquería Los Camineros is another fave amongst locals and totally lives up to its slogan, “El placer del buen taco” (the pleasure of a good taco). A great vegg option is the quesadillas con rajas (peppers) into which you can stuff pieces of your side order of cebollitas. Their meat “volcanoes” rock as well. Just off the main drag at Teniente Isidro Aleman 570, in Chapultepec Sur.
  • Tacopolis La Huerta is in the south end of the city, on La Huerta (the road leading to Patzcuaro), shortly before you get to the mall area (Walmart, Office Depot, Home Depot, Cinépolis). They offer a great range of salsas to accompany your quesadillas, tacos, alambra (massive meat overdose for the hardcore travellers only!). Their chipotle and avocado salsas are awesome. The hard-to-find vegetarian alambra is a nice vegg option when you are tired of quesadillas, but theirs, made with mushrooms, peppers, pineapple and optional cheese, is fairly bland. Here they serve flour, not corn, tortillas. Wireless available.
  • Los Carboncitos offers “¡¡Un Taco bien Carbón!!” with hand-made flour or corn tortillas. Their red salsa, made with roasted red peppers, is a fantastic addition to their quesadillas con adobera, a firm cheese that is fried on the grill. Ask for a side of fried onions that come with the meat dishes to add to your quesadillas. Tacos starting at 6 pesos, quesadillas starting at 7 pesos. In the southwest of the city about 1 km east of La Huerta on Universidad, on the side street Valle de Guayangareo No. 31-A in Colonia Valle Quieto. Closed Sundays.


Outdoor patio dining under the city’s historic portals is casual, fun and affordable. The dining room of the Best Western is good and a bit cheaper than the more sophisticated fare outside the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.


  • Las Fonda de las Mercedes is one of the most elegant and sophisticated dining rooms in the city. It is dramatic and romantic with an atmosphere of 16th century colonial grace punctuated by 21st century touches. The cuisine is nouveau Mexican, blending traditional elements harkening back to the pre-Colombian era with international influences to create a fusion that is nothing short of culinary orgasm. You can experience master culinary craftsmanship in this 5-star restaurant for no more money than buying a steak at an Outback. 
  • Las Trojes is an elegant steakhouse in the upscale neighborhood of Camelinas. The restaurant uses only certified Angus beef, cooked to perfection. The service is attentive yet friendly, and no detail is overlooked. Even the bread is spectacular at Las Trojes — delicately crispy baguettes accompanied by a spicy bean and herb spread.

Sights & Landmarks

There are a lot of interesting and beautiful colonial buildings to see in Morelia, most of them are open to the public for at least part of the day. Highlights of a Morelia city tour will include:

  • Cathedral: One of the downtown highlights is the baroque cathedral with its surrounding gardens and parks. The cathedral is enormous, covering more than 2 city blocks in area. Architectural details like the flying buttresses and tiled cupolas give it a distinctive look. The Cathedral is the site for the local “Day of the Dead” celebration in early November. It is more of an experience than can be described here. Most of the activities take place after dark, make sure you have a good seat around the square at dark for the outside performance of the choir and the fireworks each night.
  • Casa Natal de Morelos and Casa de Morelos: Hero of the Mexican War for Independence, native son Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, was born, raised, and lived his life in Morelia. There are two Morelos homes in the city, and both are historical museums that chronicle Morelos and his role in shaping Mexico.
  • Aqueduct: Running down the center of Avenida Acueducto is an enormous aqueduct built in the 17th century to bring water into the budding young city.
  • Santuario de Guadalupe: One of the most serenely beautiful churches in Mexico, adorned in soft pink and white with gold trim, the church is a work of art in itself. It also houses a series of 17th century oil paintings that ideologically depict the Spanish missionaries’ conquest over the “barbaric” religious traditions of the Aztecs.
  • Benito Juarez Zoological Park is a 620-acre urban oasis that is home to a 75-acre lake and a large and diverse collection of animals, including everything from polar bears to monkeys. Kids love it! Admission costs 12 pesos for adults and 6 for kids. Open 7 days a week. [www]

Things to do

  • Take some time to stroll around, particularly near the Cathedral.
  • Listen to a concert by the Morelia Boys Choir at the spectacular Conservatory of the Roses. The group is modeled on the Vienna Boys Choir, and their director is a former maestro from Vienna.
  • Find out about local festivals. Morelia frequently hosts outstanding events, like a regional foods festival in late fall, and music or cultural festivals at other times of the year. You can often find out about these through Morelia's tourist bureau web site. [www]
  • Visit the Santuario de Guadalupe (also known as the Templo San Diego) between the last week of November and December 12. For two weeks, Mexico celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Morelia's celebration is a classic!

Festivals and events

The Festival Internacional de Música de Morelia is an annual event that was begun in 1988 by Bernal Jiménez, who had the dream of making Morelia the “Salzburg of America.” The festival consists of more than forty concerts with over 500 artists participating. It has become the largest music festival in Morelia, with private and government sponsors, esp. CONACULTA. Concerts include those by chamber orquestras, choirs, ensambles, trios and soloists such as pianist Joanna MacGregor and the Britten Symphony.Each year, a different country is the “special guest,” which in 2009 was the United Kingdom.In that year, some of the participants included the London Symphony Orchestra, the Brodsky Quartet, La Britten Symphony Orchestra, the Coro Nova Scholla Gregoriana Di Verona of Italy, and violinist Tanya Anisimova from Russia. Participants from Mexico included the National Symphonic Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería and flautist Horacio

The Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia was begun in 2003, and is mostly dedicated to Mexican cinema, showcasing up-and-coming directors and productions. The majority of activities take place in the Cinépolis Morelia Centro, but also includes other theaters, auditoriums and public plazas.

Morelia is the site of the annual Zapata Vive Morelia Festival, which celebrates the life of Emiliano Zapata with cultural and political activities. The purpose of the event is to promote exhibitions by artistic, cultural and social organizations from the state of Michoacán and other parts of the country. Events are spread out over several days and include ones such as concerts, round tables and information sessions. The event encourages those organizations who work with the lower social classes and are politically left to participate.

The Festival de Escala is an annual event dedicated to promoting rock climbing in the municipality at places such as El Paredón de la Noria, just south of the city proper.

A popular festival that features a 3-day Salsa competition in the heart of Morelia is called "SalsaMich". Typically held in March, the festival brings Salsa dancers from all across the country to Morelia to compete for prizes.


There are several bars in the city center that come to life starting around 11PM

  • Ego Near the Sky. Is the most popular disco in Morelia. Blvd. Jefferson 600
  • Beatles House offers live rock bands with a retro 60s and 70s sound. Av. Madero, across from the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza.
  • Zitio has a casual disco atmosphere and is known for its theme evenings. Av. Enrique Ramirez Miguel 110.
  • Amsterdam, one of the best gay café/bars in the entire town, is located in the centre, in Humboldt Street. It’s a great place to go with all your LGBT friends and to meet new ones. The café organizes several activities, such as the Gay Pride march on May 17. Amsterdam Café/Bar has delicious beverages, such as “Orgasm”, “White Russian” and offers a large coffee menu. It has a great ambience, all the place is decorated with colorful paintings, for example, a copy of Karina Kun’s La Majo Desnuda and a big fresco by Belgian painter Peter Nyu. The barmen are also very nice and friendly. The two owners, a beautiful happy couple in love, Mario and Gabriel, will be happy to welcome you and any of your LGBT friends and/or family.

Nude table dance bars cluster on the outskirts of the city along the Perinorte.

Safety in Morelia

Stay Safe

Very High / 8.9

Safety (Walking alone - day)

Low / 3.5

Safety (Walking alone - night)


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