March 15, 2005
Patzcuaro, Mexico

Patzcuaro (PAHTZ-kwah-roh) is a beautiful, old colonial city in the Tarascan area of Michoacan, in the mountains above the city of Morelia. The geography is like the ponderosa pine foothills of the Sierras, in the mother lode country of California. The elevation of Patzcuaro is 7,200 feet above sea level, and the town is known for its beautiful old cobbled streets, its heavy timber roofs, its leafy plazas, and its marketplace selling copper items and wood carvings. The indigenous people are Purepecha, and the region *was* so remote at one time that they were never conquered by the Spaniards. Patzcuaro is also the name of a large nearby lake with shallow and reedy approaches, which is why the town isn't built directly on its edge, but there are mountains all around and several mountainous islands in the middle of the lake, one of which is called Janitzio, famous for spiraling processions to its peak on the Day of the Dead.

I stumbled on Patzcuaro in 1988 while backpacking around Mexico, and loved it so much that on another trip I changed plans completely halfway through to go back there, and have been back a third and fourth time since then. It's a lovely place, with enough space to relax, but also enough of interest, all within walking distance. If you want to stay in the comfort of your own colonial room you can. Or you can go for a ride on the lake, cruise around the markets, shop for trinkets, climb to the basilica and beyond, drink coffee or chocolate, or just otherwise explore. There are interesting also sites close by, including one local ruined pyramid called Tzintzuntzan, which (unsurprisingly if you try to say this out loud) means "Hummingbird place".

According to the Michoacan Travel website:

Volcanic activity and the state of Michoacan's latitude help create a setting not unlike Hawaii. Rich soil supports lush jungle-like vegetation, with spectacular mountain landscapes and velveteen pasturelands.

Patzcuaro is the cultural and artistic center of Michoacan. Its original name was "Tzacapu-ansucutinpatzcuaro" which translates as "door to heaven" or "place where the blackness begins".

Many historical fountains adorn the city. A multitude of churches, plazas and shrines make Patzcuaro a truly great historical destination. Small and large marketplaces line the plazas and ancient side streets, and Patzcuaro is famous for its sidewalk cafes and great restaurants. Its pace is leisurely, the people friendly, and the Spanish colonial and indigenous heritage rich.

For more pictures, see:

-- My pictures of Patzcuaro + La Casa Encantada
-- Beautiful images of Patzcuaro by Kevin Atkins
-- Various photos of the Patzcuaro area by Brian Fey
-- Images of Patzcuaro from
-- La Casa Encantada website: Bed & Breakfast

Contact me for more details
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Vinessa • 09:09 AM •

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