From here we made our way to the Las Rosas Square, one of the most popular public squares in Morelia. The church next to the square is dedicated to Santa Rosa and was originally a Dominican nuns’ convent until the early 18th century that educated young Morelian women how to become proper marriageable wives for their noblemen husbands. The south side of the square is flanked by restaurants with outdoor patios, and the center of the plaza has an attractive fountain and a statue of Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the famous author of Don Quijote.
The Las Rosas square
After our walk through the downtown we drove up a hill south of downtown from which we enjoyed a magnificent vantage point to look over the whole city. Morelia is surrounded by mountains an all sides, and on the north side it is flanked by Mexico’s Neo-Volcanic Range. This mountain zone still experiences active volcanism to this day and the best-known volcano is the Paricutín which began erupting in 1943. Not far from Morelia is a town called Los Azufres (literally: “the sulphurs”) where geothermal activity has resulted in spa tourism.
View of the city of Morelia from the Hotel Villa Montaña
A few minutes away we stopped again, this time at the Hotel Villa Montaña from where we enjoyed another fabulous view over the city. Rodrigo explained that this hotel was briefly owned by Tyrone Power shortly before he passed away. He added that in his opinion this is the best hotel in the city and even the Mexican president Felipe Calderon, who hails from Morelia, stays here when he is in town on business. The Hotel Villa Montaña is indeed very elegant and modern with flawlessly manicured grounds. We walked right through the facility to a lookout area from where we could see the entire downtown of Morelia.
On the way to the hotel we glimpsed this Quinceañera celebration
By about 5 pm Rodrigo dropped me off at the Hotel Catedral and I got to rest just a bit in my comfortable queen size room. As I got ready for my evening explorations I walked up to the rooftop of the hotel which provides the most awesome view of the Plaza de Armas and the cathedral. A large wedding party was celebrating on the terrace so I did not want to interrupt them, but I thought that this location has to be one of the most fabulous places for any get-together.
The Hotel Catedral with its roof terrace, one of the best places to stay in Morelia
In the evening I took a walk through town which was still bustling with large crowds. Most of the churches and monasteries downtown were beautifully illuminated, giving the town an almost magical atmosphere. Balloon vendors and street performers were still out, and families and couples were going for a stroll. By 7:30 pm I had worked up a real appetite and sat down at a restaurant called El Atrio, right in front of the cathedral. I ordered a spicy bean soup and an “Ensalada Azteca” with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, avocadoes and strips of fried tortilla.
Colourful balloons in front of San Agustín Church
Every Saturday night fireworks are launched from Morelia’s cathedral and I wanted to have a front-row spot. The main street was blocked off to traffic and large crowds were gathering on the square and in the street to await the big spectacle. Two nice older ladies from a small town in Michoacán sat down next to me. They were here on a religious convention and waiting for the fireworks as well. They started chatting with me and we had a pleasant conversation until the sound show started at about 9 pm, describing the history of the cathedral and of the city of Morelia. To enhance the effect, the cathedral was completely dark and even much of the street lighting had been turned off.
Fireworks are launched from the Cathedral of Morelia
Finally about ten minutes later the fireworks started at the top of the cathedral between the two towers, all choreographed to music, and the entire performance lasted for about 10 minutes. At the end the cathedral was brightly illuminated, showing off all its gorgeous architectural details. The weekly fireworks in Morelia are an amazing event, and I was really happy that I had come into town at the right time to witness this special experience.
Huge crowds in front of the Cathedral of Morelia
The crowds dispersed fairly quickly and I got up and took another short walk to admire some of the other illuminated churches and former convents. Morelia’s colonial architecture seemed even more spectacular at night I thought as I started snapping pictures of these stunning structures.
Tomorrow another adventure was awaiting me: an excursion to Lake Patzcuaro and the island town of Janitzio, famous for its rituals surrounding Mexico’s Day of the Dead.
Nightly view from the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Catedral