Patzcuaro Tourist Attractions
The most important town in the Pátzcuaro Lake region is Pátzcuaro (Tarascan: "place of the stones for temple building"; 2175 m (7138 ft); population 90,000; market day: Friday) situated 4km/2.5mi from the lake.This delightful little town still presents a picture of the past. While the Indian element continues to prevail in the life of this former Tarascan metropolis, its most attractive old buildings date back to 1550 when Pátzcuaro was a Spanish episcopal see. The memory of the Indians' great protector and teacher, Bishop Vasco de Quiroga ("Tata Vasco", 1470-1565), is still very much alive. The history of the town, which received its charter from the Emperor Charles V in 1553, is closely linked to that of Tzintzuntzan and Morelia.
Both the Calle Itturbide and the Calle Zaragoza lead to the Plaza Principal (Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, Plaza Grande), one of the finest and largest of Mexico's squares. The Palacio Municipal (Town Hall), a former 18th c. palace, stands on the right. The Casa del Gigante (House of the Giants), with its beautiful doorway and decorated balcony windows, is situated on the east side of the square.
Calle Ponce de León
The old royal customs house is situated in the south-west corner of the square, in the Calle Ponce de León. The Baroque Church of San Francisco stands in the next block. It contains a statue of Christ, credited with miraculous powers.
Basilica Nuestra Señora de la Salud (La Colegiata)
Near the Museo de Artes Populares is the Basilica Nuestra Señora de la Salud (La Colegiata), which was founded as a cathedral by Bishop Quiroga in 1543, but was never completed. It contains a statue of the Virgin of Salud made of thick maize paste (Pasta de Caña), a technique typical of Tarascan sacral art.
Biblioteca Gertrudis Bocanegra (Church of San Agustin)
The former church of San Agustin stands on the colonial-style Plaza de San Agustin (Plaza Chica, Plaza Bocanegra). The church now houses the Biblioteca Gertrudis Bocanegra; inside the building Michoacán's history is portrayed in murals by Juan O'Gorman. An interesting market (Mercado) adjoins the plaza.
The Calvary chapel of El Humilladero outside the town is reached via the Calle del General Serrato. It has a 17th c. doorway in Renaissance style, showing Indian-influence, an unusual Renaissance doorway, a crucifix dated 1553 and an interesting altar.
Museo de Artes Populares
The former Colegio de San Nicolás, a school founded in 1540 by Quiroga, occupies the next corner after La Compañia. It houses the notable Museo de Artes Populares with a collection of ethnological exhibits as well as old and new folk art from the region.
Casa de los Once Patios
The Casa de los Once Patios ("House of the Eleven Patios"), a former 17th c. convent of St Catherine stands to the south-east of the Plaza Principal. It contains the Casa de las Artesanias de Michoacán, where high quality craftwork is on sale.
Cerro del Estribo
By following Calle Ponce de León further to the west, the extinct volcano Cerro del Estribo ("Hill of the Stirrup") is reached. From here there is a marvelous view of the town and lake.