Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacán, and while it is packed with 16th century charm, it euxudes a very relaxed yet hip modernism. Its name is an homage to the famed Mexican Independence leader José María Morelos. Prior to independence it was known as Valladolid after the famed Spanish city of that name.

As is typical of most of the buildings of the period, Morelia's Cathedral is built on a grand scale from large blocks of pink stone. Close inspection can reveal a variety of architectural styles owing to the fact that the Cathedral took just over 100 years to complete. It is flanked by its own small plaza in the foreground, and by the Plaza de Armas on the opposite side. Together they take up a full two city blocks. It is equally beautiful and attracts crowds both day and night (below).

On the street adjacent to the Cathedral's plaza you can even hear a "hurdy-gurdy man" at night.

With their impressive stonework, Morelia's colonial masterpieces do not have an angle from which they do not impress. The garden beneath the bell tower (below) is a popular meeting spot for both students and tourists.

The massive wall at left is one side of the Palacio Clavijero. Beginning in the mid 17th century it was home to the Jesuits until their expulsion from New Spain in the 18th century. Since then it has had many iterations, and currently it is technically a state office building but its many salons are typically used for contemporary art installations. Where the trees begin on the right there is a narrow strip running the entire block known simply as the "Jardin". It is home to a row of trendy outdoor cafes where students and office workeres can be found quaffing pitchers of Micheladas. On our visit the Palacio housed an impressive photographic collection of film directors from Spain, as well as a display of prints depicting engravings from various editions of Don Quixote over the centuries. Below are just a few.

The print at right is from an edition from 1662.

The Jardin above is quiet during the morning hours, but begining around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon it is teaming with people.

Inside, the Clavijero's huge courtyard once housed a prison. Below, you can see just how thick the walls are, and the artful use of architectural elements needed to support them.

Although Morelia has some amazing accomodations decorated with local artwork and antiques for considerably less than $100, it is one of the handful of places that we have visited where we feel entirely comfortable staying in a hostel. This one caters to travelers of all ages, has a communal kitchen, and allows us to pull the bikes into the interior courtyard at night. Our bikes parked in front served as a billboard for this couple fron Lake Tahoe who were traveling on KLRs. With breakfast included and free wifi, the cable tv drove the price up to 30 bucks--the most expensive room in the place.

Although the area around Morelia enjoys world fame as the southernmost home to a massive annual migration of Monarch butterflies, this leaf-bug was the biggest wildlife we encountered. To give it scale, the tiles in the background are 4x4 inch squares.