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Visit the eight “Pueblos Mágicos” of Michoacán

Did you know that the state of Michoacán has eight “Pueblos Mágicos” (magical towns)?  The Pueblos Mágicos program, developed by the Secretary of Tourism in collaboration with various government agencies and state and city governments, officially recognizes beautiful places across the country whose inhabitants have managed to conserve their cultural and historical wealth.

The summer vacation is the perfect time to plan a trip to any of the Pueblos Mágicos of Michoacán, to find out more about the symbolism, legends and history that make them special.

Pátzcauro: Just 40 minutes from Morelia, this lovely town dates back to the 14th century and boasts the second largest colonial plaza in Mexico. During the times of the Purépecha empire, Pátzcuaro was a place for recreation of the nobility, and at the same time, a site of religious worship. Legend has it that the gate to heaven where the gods climbed and descended was located here. Now visitors can take trips to Lake Pátzcuaro, learn about the traditions of their islands and enjoy the local cuisine, famous for its pasta snow, among other dishes. The Teatro Emperador Calzontzin, in the heart of Pátzcuaro, is one of the venues of FICM and during the festival the audience can see the best of Mexican and international cinema for free.

Traditions of Pátcuaro. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Traditions of Pátcuaro. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Tzintzuntzan: Just 30 minutes from Morelia and 10 minutes from Pátzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan offers a window into the indigenous culture of Michoacán. In pre-Hispanic times, it was the capital of the Tarascans and you can still visit five pyramids erected on stone bases known as Las Yácatas. The Franciscan convent of Tzintzuntzan, whose construction dates from the 16th century, is also remarkable and it is said that Vasco de Quiroga planted the olive trees that grow in its atrium. Today the town is known for its rich handcrafts in materials like tule, clay, wood and pink stone. Its cuisine is famous for its caldo ahogado, corn atole, churipo de pescado, corundas and charales.

Day of the Dead Altar in Tzintzuntzan. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Day of the Dead Altar in Tzintzuntzan. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Santa Clara del Cobre: It is located just 75 kilometers from Morelia and its natural environment enhances its simple provincial architecture. The inhabitants of this town preserve the tradition of forging copper and hand- hammering, which guarantees that the visitor will get a unique piece in any of the workshops of these master craftsmen. Santa Clara del Cobre is the scene of the famous Mexican novel The Useless Life of Pedro Pérez, written by José Rubén Romero and adapted to cinema on several occasions. The recommended dishes here are mutton, tortas de tostada de carne apache and traditional bread.

Copper artisan. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Copper artisan. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Tacámbaro: Just 80 kilometers from Morelia, in the middle of a lovely wooded setting, is Tacámbaro. Here, visitors can learn about the sanctuary of the Virgin of Fátima, famous for its four paintings of the virgin refugees from Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Cuba. In addition, Tacámbaro has an important eco-tourism area, which includes Cerro Hueco Park, the Alberca (one of the three volcanic craters filled with water found in Michoacán), the Magdalena Lagoon and the Santa Paula waterfall.

Tacámbaro. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Tacámbaro. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Tlalpujahua: At nearly the same distance from Morelia as Mexico City, a little more than an hour by car, is Tlalpujahua, known as the Christmas town in Mexico because of its handmade Christmas ornaments. Among its tourist attractions are the 17th century Sanctuario del Carmen. You can also visit the ruins of the Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, buried in a mining accident in 1932. Tlalpujahua retains its typical architecture, and its cobblestoned streets and slopes that have served as locations for terror films on many occasions.

Christmas ornaments in Tlalpujahua. Image of A30_Tsitika en Flickr Creative Commons.

Christmas ornaments in Tlalpujahua. Image of A30_Tsitika en Flickr Creative Commons.

Angangueo: An hour and a quarter from Mexico City and an hour and a half from Morelia is Angangueo. It is a mining town with colonial architecture that includes in its natural environment the sanctuaries of the monarch butterflies, located within a biosphere reserve, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The mountains of Angangueo serve as a refuge for millions of butterflies that travel each year from Canada and the United States, making a journey of about 4,000 kilometers in 25 days. They arrive in Michoacán to reproduce and in the spring, they undertake their journey north to complete their life cycle. This phenomenon occurs between October and March.

Monarch butterfly. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Monarch butterfly. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Cuitzeo: Cuitzeo is the largest lagoon in Mexico. It is only 34 kilometers from Morelia and it is the habitat of various species of birds. In addition to the natural charm of the lagoon, visitors can learn about the Augustine monastery of Santa María Magdalena, a building that was started in 1550 with the appearance of a medieval fortress. The cuisine in Cuitzeo includes charales, suckling pig, frog legs, corn tortillas with vegetable dye and turkey mole.

 Cuitzeo. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Cuitzeo. Image from the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán

Jiquilpan: Known as the city of the jacarandas, Jiquilpan de Juárez is located 208 kilometers from Morelia and 524 from Mexico City. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and its characteristic trees from the Casa de Piedra library, situated on top of a hill. Other tourist attractions in Jiquilpan include the Temple of the Sacred Heart, where there is a mural painted by a disciple of José Clemente Orozco, and the Public Library, housed in a 19th century building. Among the typical dishes of this town are the pajaretes, corundas, buche and pork carnitas.

 Jiquilpan. Image of mikaera13 in Flickr Creative Commons.

Jiquilpan. Image of mikaera13 in Flickr Creative Commons.

For more information, we recommend that you visit the sites of the Secretary of Tourism of Michoacán: visitmichoacan.com.mx / Twitter @turismo_mich / facebook/visitmichoacan / YouTube: vivemicho