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.
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.
: 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
Next stages :
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,
Archaeological zone of Ihuatzio , located between Tzintzuntzán and
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.
and celebration of the Day of the Dead in a family in the
region of Pátzcuaro.
Comments in Spanish
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
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
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
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.
: Island of Janitzio
Not to be missed : the festivities of the Day of the Dead early
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
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.
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.
: laundry by the pier
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
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.