Old Town of Morelia (World Heritage)

The city, founded by the Spaniards in 1541, has more than 200 historical buildings from the colonial era in its center, which have elements of the Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods.

Old Town Morelia: Facts

Official title: Old town of Morelia
Cultural monument: in the historical center of the city formerly known as Valladolid the baroque former Convento de San Diego (18th century), the baroque former Convento de Capuchinas (18th century), the two-towered cathedral, the Palacio de Gobierno, the Palacio de Justicia, the Casa de Morelos, the Colegio de San Nicolás (16th century), the Templo de la Compañía de Jesús, today library with manuscripts of the Jesuits, and the Palacio Clavijero
Continent: America
Country: Mexico, Michoacan
Location: Morelia, northwest of Mexico City
Appointment: 1991
Meaning: a remarkable city monument of the 17th / 18th centuries Century made of pinkish-brownish trachyte rock

Old town of Morelia: history

1531 Construction of the Iglesia de San Francisco
1541 City foundation and settlement of 50 Spanish families
1546 Consecration of the Iglesia de San Francisco
1548 Foundation of the Augustinian monastery
1579/80 Relocation of the bishopric to Valladolid
1596 Construction of the Convento del Carmen begins
1640-1744 Construction of the cathedral
1660-81 Construction of the Jesuit church next to the Palacio Clavijero, the former Jesuit college
1758 Construction of the Casa de Morelos
1770 Inauguration of the Palacio de Gobierno
1767 Expulsion of the Jesuits
1828 Renaming to Morelia in honor of the freedom fighter José María Morelos y Pavón (1765-1815)

More Spanish than Spain itself

The city’s most famous son, the priest José María Morelos y Pavón, felt committed not only to the word of God, but also to the struggle for liberation from the Spanish yoke. Together with another priest, Miguel Hidalgo, he was one of the key figures in the independence movement in Mexico. After the so-called “Grito de Dolores”, the most famous “outcry in Mexican history,” which demanded equal rights for all and land for the landless, Morelos successfully led his fellow campaigners against the Spanish army until he was betrayed, captured and executed.

The struggle for freedom did not end with his death; According to philosophynearby, Mexico eventually gained independence and honored its hero 13 years after his execution. Morelos’ hometown was from then on called Morelia. And the house where he was born is now a much-visited memorial alongside his later home.

Before it was renamed in the 19th century, the city was called Valladolid and Mexico was the Spanish colony of New Spain. Their first viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, had named the small town, which had formed around a Franciscan monastery, after his Castilian birthplace and encouraged Spanish aristocrats and their families to settle there. And they came, stayed and built!

City palaces, churches and a cathedral with shady arcades and richly decorated facades were created from yellow and pink volcanic trachyte rock. And the right-angled streets with the ornate house facades still conjure up the elegance of the colonial era: Morelia still looks “more Spanish than Spain itself”.

Many stylistic elements, which the Moors who penetrated from North Africa to Spain preferred during their rule in Spain, can also be seen in local buildings. Most noticeable are the azulejos, brightly painted tiles that also cover the large dome of the cathedral. The Palacio Clavijero, a former Jesuit college of special harmony, was built according to the Spanish-Castilian model. The city’s oldest church, San Francisco, was built in the Italian Renaissance style, but the bell tower’s small dome is covered with azulejos. Little by little, Indian motifs found their way into architecture, and in the 17th and 18th centuries an independent variety of the Baroque emerged. During this time the cathedral, the government palace, some churches and palaces were built,

To the left and right of the cathedral, two parks form the beating heart of the city: trees shade the fully occupied benches, shoe shiners offer their services, balloon sellers with brightly colored, floating giant clusters are looking for buyers among the playing children. The delicious smells of the densely packed snack bars float above everything. During their lunch break, students in their school uniforms stroll through the nearby Mercado de Dulces – Morelia’s many candy lovers actually have an entire market dedicated to them! Students flock to the Colegio de San Nicolás, one of the oldest universities in Mexico. Do you know that Morelos heard the theological lectures of his teacher at the time, Miguel Hidalgo, who was temporarily rector of this college, in the well-preserved baroque building?

Every now and then the lively picture becomes even more colorful when a group of local Indians, from Tarasken, in their colorful costumes, bring their handicrafts to the Palacio de las Artesanías, the former monastery of San Francisco. Their first-class pottery, hand-woven and embroidered fabrics, hammered copperware, lacquer work and wood carvings are exhibited and sold there.

The Tarasken were skilled artisans even in pre-Hispanic times. The famous figure of Christ in the sacristy of the cathedral also comes from them. It was formed from a mass of powdered corn stalks, orchid extracts and honey and wears a golden crown donated by King Philip II of Spain – a symbol of the Indian and colonial heritage.

Old Town of Morelia