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Pátzcuaro area
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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  The surroundings of PÁTZCUARO

The state is considered as one of the most beautiful and picturesque in Mexico because of the numerous villages located around the Capital Morelia and around Pátzcuaro.
Take the time to visit the following villages :

From the North and West sides of the lake,


Located 18 km (10 miles) from Pátzcuaro, on the western shore of the lake, this beautiful village is surrounded by nice forests. Erongaricuaro has been the place of several foreign artists who left their marks. Worldwide famous luxurious furniture is made here.
Recommended visits :
The temple and the Franciscan Convent, of plateresque style, dating from the sixteenth century and decorated with original paintings.

On the road to Erongaricuaro, stop at Tócuaro, a village specialized in the making of traditional purépecha masks. The masks are carved in copal wood. You will be able to visit the workshops and look at the people wood carving. The bright colors, the expressive design and the fine carvings delight the tourists.

View of the lake from the road to Erongaricuaro Jarácuaro, located 18 km (10 miles) from Pátzcuaro, is worth the trip even if it is off the road Pátzcuaro-Erongaricuaro. This island is connected to the land with a bridge that allows the cars to go to the island. The island of Jarácuaro has been dedicated to Goddess Xaratanga (moon Goddess) by the first inhabitants. Some of the main attractions are the temple, dating from the sixteenth century, and the Chapel of Nativity, recently restored. Here, the purépecha community lives from hand-made sombrero making. You can visit the different workshops; each of them specialized in one stage of the making.

     Right picture : View of the lake from the road to Erongaricuaro

If you keep driving north, you will cross quiet villages such as Napizaro, Puacuaro, Oponguio, San Andrès Tzirondaro and San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro. Then you can reach the eastern shore of the lake. The Pre-Hispanic village of Santa Fe de la Laguna conserves the pureness and customs of the Purépechas.
The village is famous for the making of funerary pieces such as vases, urns and candlesticks. It lives on fishing, ceramic and agriculture. The famous hospital founded by Don Vasco de Quiroga was located here.

Next stages :

main place of Quiroga

Located 19 km (1.1 miles) from Pátzcuaro, this Pre-Hispanic village, named after Bishop Quiroga, was the obliged way to go from the old Capital of the Purépechas to the ceremonial center of Zacapu, on the northern side of the lake. During the nineteenth century, it was an important commercial center. Nowadays, they work there on leather and lacquered wood.
Recommended visits :
• San Diego de Alcalá parish, dating from the seventeenth century as well as the permanent craft display and sale.

Left picture : main place of Quiroga

The markets of Quiroga or Tzintzuntzan are very representative of the wonderful work of the craftsmen of Michoacán. They have techniques and materials as diverse as their imagination !

Located 17 Km (10 miles) from Pátzcuaro, the “place of hummingbirds"; it was the Capital of the old Purepécha kingdom. Few tribes came to Pátzcuaro Lake in the twelfth century and conquered the people living in this area. These tribes speak a musical language that is not related to the náhuatl but to the maya. Until now, they kept their language and traditions, especially in the mountains where you can see their temples, the yácatas.

When the Spanish arrived, Tanganxoan II was the governor of the Empire; he was burned by Nuño de Guzmán in1529. It started the cruel Conquest that resulted in the disagreement between the Spanish and the Jewish of the area.
Vasco de Quiroga arrived in Tzintzuntzán as the « Oidor de la Real Audiencia » (Judge of the Royal Audience). He moved the Capital of the district of Michoacán to the city of Pátzcuaro.
The legacy of Don Vasco de Quiroga can be seen in the diversity of the crafts learned by the Purépechas; this legacy lasts today and made the state of Michoacán an important and famous craft center.
Recommended visits :
Archaeological zone of Tzintzuntzán (yácatas) : the Purépechas strategically built their capital on the high shores of the lake. This archaeological site comprises a grand shaded oblong platform supporting five yácatas, pyramids with terraces linked to circular monticules formerly covered with volcanic rock slabs serving as bases for temples (open daily 9 AM-6PM, $46)
Archaeological zone of Ihuatzio , located between Tzintzuntzán and Pátzcuaro.
Craft Market : there is a huge diversity of crafts from the whole region, open daily (cheaper than in Pátzcuaro).
Convento Franciscano, with magnificent olive trees, planted by Don Vasco de Quiroga. It was built in 1550.

Tzintzuntzán (mainly about Easter and the day of the Dead)

Preparation and celebration of the Day of the Dead in a family in the region of Pátzcuaro.

Comments in Spanish


view of  the lake The long and large 88 km (55 miles) road that goes round the lake, leave the shore only between Tzintzuntzán and Ihuatzio. You still can take the small road that crosses these two villages. The village of Ihuatzio is interesting only because of the Purépecha ruins.
The site (open daily 10 AM-6 PM, $35) comprises a vast ceremonial place with two well conserved oblong yácatas and three other of the same style as in Tzintzuntzán.

Left picture : view of the lake

Located 61 km (38 miles) north of Pátzcuaro, this village is said to be the first settlement of the Purépechas. They occupied, then, the whole territory of the actual Michoacán and a part of Guanajuato and Querétaro.
During the Colony, the Spanish considered Zacapu as the Republic of the Indians. This village was the center of important fights during the War of Independence.
Nowadays, it is a famous agriculture, commercial and industrial center.
Recommended visits :
Church (Parroquia) of Santa Ana.
Sanctuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe.
Chapel (Capilla) of San Juan Bautista.
Convent (Convento) Franciscano dating from the sixteenth century.
The hot Springs.
The pool ( Alberca) de los Espinos, formed by the crater of a small volcano (the Basin of the Hawthorns)

Allow a whole day for the visit of the south of Pátzcuaro.
Drive 18km ( 11 miles) to the East to visit the Church of Santiago Apóstol built in 1725. The church has a plain facade but houses nice richness inside. Indians painted the wonderful 3 piece wooden ceiling, representing the Passion of the Christ and the enthronement of the Virgin. For this reason, it is called the «Sixtine Chapel» of Michoacán. Look also at the wonderful paintings of the golden altar-piece.

Go back on the same road and drive south on road 120 to reach the village of SANTA CLARA DEL COBRE, 24 km (15 miles) from Pátzcuaro. The first armed uprising of Francisco I. Madero took place in this village. Salvador Escalante was at the head of the region and got the trust of the people. He died fighting during the Revolution.
The craftsmen of this village are worldwide famous because of their skills working with copper. Each store has its own workshop to create beautiful objects of hammered copper.
Visit the Museo del Cobre, (Museum of Copper located at the corner Morelos and Pino Suárez, open 10 AM-3 PM and 5-7 PM, Tue-Sun, $20). It displays the pieces that are awarded each year during the Feria del Cobre (Copper fair) that takes place on August, 15th every year.
Santa Clara del Cobre is part of the "magic village" since 2010.

Take the road to Nueva Italia for 2 km (1.4 miles) and turn right to drive on a road which winds for 15 km (10 miles) in a nice thick forest. You will follow Zirahuén lake, surrounded with pines. Admire the deep blue color of this small lake. The village of Zirahuén is famous for its music and traditional dances, especially during Holy Week and Saint Cross (May 3rd). The boat ride from the village is an excellent option for the nature lovers ($30 per person, 45 min).


Nice views of the world of Purépechas
10 years travelling in the world of Indigenous communication, Celebration of 10 years of journalistic work in the Purépecha region.

  Islands of the lake of PÁTZCUARO


Island of Janitzio This picturesque island is located 20 min from the dock. Its name means "corn hair". On the top, a 40m (131 feet) high monument commemorates General Don José Maria Morelos y Pavón. Inside the monument, the painter Ramón Alva de la Canal painted the hero’s life. The Indigenous community that still lives there, kept most of the customs and traditions, such as the Eve of the Day of the Dead: the fishermen go out with Butterfly Nets and boats lighted with candles. The boat ride is pleasant. The hike up the hill is difficult but the panoramic view of the lake and the islands is exceptional, if the weather is fine. The hike is bordered by restaurants and souvenirs shops. This island is unfortunately crowded with tourists. Fees : $40 round trip from the dock, from 9 AM to 6 PM. Take a local bus from Plaza Bocanegra in Pátzcuaro.

     Right picture : Island of Janitzio

Not to be missed : the festivities of the Day of the Dead early November.


The fishermen unfold their Butterfly Nets before accosting the tourists to get a tip. Everything is well orchestrated.
It is worth the trip at least once in a life course. We have happy memories of it. The lake is covered with reeds and the level of water is decreasing in an alarming way. How will it be in a few decades ?

Left picture : fishermen

The color of the water is far from being as blue as in the post cards! Unfortunately, the deforestation, sign of the civilization, lead to an important decrease of the ground water level. You can notice it when seeing the low level of the lakes. The algae and the water lilies lead to a problem of water supply for the inhabitants !


This island is located 35 min from the dock. Pacanda means " grow something in the water". This round island is in the middle of the lake. It is flat, which allows the inhabitants to farm. There is a beautiful Laguna with plenty of carps and ducks used in their gastronomy. There is no place to stay.

laundry by the pier Yunuén

It is located 30 min from the dock. Yunuén means " half moon". Its main attraction is the vegetation, always fresh and green, as well as the typical constructions : they reflect the traditions and culture of the inhabitants. This island has a picturesque pier, cabanas and other services to enjoy a quiet and pleasant stay. The Indigenous community runs remarkably little houses overhanging the lake. It is truly a haven of peace. Opt for the visit of this island if you want to stay away from civilization.

     Right picture : laundry by the pier


Los Urandenes

These islands are located 10 minutes from the dock of Pátzcuaro. Uranden means "basin". The three islands are surrounded with beautiful canals. There is plenty of White Fish. The inhabitants are skilful in fishing with Butterfly Nets. The rowers compete in international races. There is no place to stay.


This island is located north of Janitzo, 25 min from the dock. It is the smallest island of the lake. Its name means "good honey". It is a quiet place for resting and thinking. From the panoramic view point, the view of the lake is fantastic. There is no place to stay.

view of the village of Janitzio View of the islands of Tecuena and Yunuén from Janitzio







          Pictures above : View of the islands of Tecuena and Yunuén from Janitzio on left ; view of the village of Janitzio on right

The island of Janitzio is famous for the funeral rituals that existed far before the arrival of the Spanish. Indigenous and religious people kept the floodlight and the décor of the tombs as well as the food offerings that are like a kind of communion. Here, the Day of the Dead looks like a carnival where the death is not the enemy of the Man but his game partner. The Mexicans get some fun of it with irony, humor and sarcasms. During this Holiday, the Purepechas Indians color the village with the traditional armfuls of flowers (among them the cempasúchils). These orange flowers, looking like zinnias, were the flowers of the dead souls in Pre-Hispanic time.

Nice views of Pátzcuaro and its region

 The celebrations start on October 31st. Make reservation for hotel and transportation a long time ahead !

Map of the state :


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