10 Must-Sees in Patzcuaro

Besides being a very “typical” Mexican village, Patzcuaro is also one of the most lovely villages in the entire country.  And our hotel in Patzcuaro, Mansion Iturbe, is right in the center of it all.  From our front door, you have access to all ten of the following destinations – on foot – in just a matter of minutes.

Vasco de Quiroga Square in Patzcuaro
Vasco de Quiroga Square in Patzcuaro

La Plaza Vasco de Quiroga (“La Plaza Grande”)

Considered one of the most beautiful plazas – or “squares” – in the country, it measures about 600 by 450 feet .  The central square of Pátzcuaro is unique in an unusual aspect:  There are no churches on its perimeter!  The famous Basilica and other temples are not even visible from the Plaza.

Instead, La Plaza Vasco de Quiroga is surrounded by “civilian” – or once residential – structures of Boroque and Neoclassical architecture which, along with the gigantic trees surrounding the Plaza, come together to create the majesty of the space.  The centerpiece of the Plaza is a finely executed fountain of the adored Don Vasco de Quiroga.

Vasco de Quiroga Square from Hotel Mansion Iturbe in Patzcuaro
Vasco de Quiroga Square from Hotel Mansion Iturbe in Patzcuaro

One of those buildings is none other than the Hotel Mansión Iturbe – a significant part of Mexican history, once the home of the famous conspirator Don José María Abarca.  

During the ninteenth and twentieth centuries, this corner, where you will find a plaque commemorating 200 years of Planned Business, had a vital link in the economic life of this Magic Village.

Portal Morelos in Patzcuaro, where Hotel Mansion Iturbe is located
Portal Morelos in Pátzcuaro, where Hotel Mansion Iturbe is located

Later, it became the House of Trade and (Mule) Delivery, with owner Don Francisco de Iturbe y Heriz.  His claim to fame in that era was his ability to establish the connection with Acapulco, whence came all varieties of merchandise from the Philipines and China typically in Spanish fleets:  “The Chinese Fleet.”

This Pacific fleet operated between Acapulco and Manila transporting passengers and all sorts of merchandise.  Once on Mexican soil, the merchandise was transported by mule.  New Spain was the link between Asia and Europe.  Later, merchandise was sent from Veracruz to Spain using the Indian Fleet, crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Interior of Hotel Mansion Iturbe in Patzcuaro
Interior of Hotel Mansion Iturbe in Patzcuaro

In 1970, this building was restored, maintaining its historical integrity as a Gem of New Spain Architecture.  In that year, the building opened its doors as Hotel Mansión Iturbe.

2. Museo Regional (Museum)

Patzcuaro’s museum, located two blocks from Hotel Mansión Iturbe, which has recently undergone a major restoration.  You mustn’t miss the Museum!

Regional Museum in Patzcuaro
Regional Museum in Patzcuaro

Established in the sixteenth century by Don Vasco de Quiroga, it was originally the Royal College of San Nicolás.  The college was later moved to Valladolid (today Morelia), and the building in Patzcuaro went into the hands of the Jesuits.  The building was put to several other uses until 1938 when then-President Lázaro Cárdenas officially proclaimed it the museum that we have today.

The focus of the Museum is arts and crafts of the regional Purépecha, encompassing about 50 neighboring communities.

If you go to the back of the museum, outside, you will see the top of an actual ancient Purépecha pyramid. 

In the spacious rooms, you will see the laquerware, textiles, embroidery, claywork, musical instruments, and other artesanwork – the pride of the Purépechas.

3.  Basílica of Our Lady of Health

Listen to the haunting sound of the huge bronze bells of the Basílica (that can be heard from just about anywhere in Pátzcuaro), and visit this monument so representative of Pátzcuaro; it is but a few blocks from Hotel Mansión Iturbe.

Basilica of Our Lady of Health in Patzcuaro
Basilica of our Lady of Health in Patzcuaro

The construction of the Basílica dates from the epoch of Don Vasco de Quiroga (1543).  Don Vasco wanted a grand cathedral with five naves, but Don Vasco’s dream was never realized.  Only the central nave was constructed.  In 1580, the title of “cathedral” was transferred to Valladolid (today Morelia), and the structure became a “parroquia,” which title stuck until 1924, when it was elevated to “basílica.”

These days, countless believers from all over Mexico and distant parts of the globe come to Pátzcuaro throughout the year to  visit our Lady of Health.

4.  Public Library (Ex Convent of Saint Agustín)

La Biblioteca Pública Gertrudis Bocanegra (Public Library) can be seen from the Calle-de-Iturbe side balconies of Hotel Mansión Iturbe, in the historical downtown of Pátzcuaro.
It dates from 1576 and was an Augustinian convent.  In 1860, this large building went into secular use, and in 1882 the government of Michoacán sold the property.  In 1938, General Lázaro Cárdenas ordered that it be converted into the public library – la Biblioteca Pública Gertrudis Bocanegra.

Juan O'Gorman Mural at the Public Library in Patzcuaro
Juan O'Gorman Mural at the Public Library in Patzcuaro

Here you see the HUGE, famous mural of Juan O’Gorman, which records the history of Michoacán from pre-Colombian times through the Mexican Revolution.

5.  Casa de los Once Patios

At a short distance from Hotel Mansión Iturbe, you will find Casa de los Once Patios.  It’s the place to go to find artisanware of Pátzcuaro and the basin area.  Visit the artisans on site with their table cloths, napkins, detailed lacquerware, and much more.  Definitely an artisan-lover’s must-see.

Casa de los Once Patios in Patzcuaro
Casa de los Once Patios in Patzcuaro

Today, there are actually only five patios that make up the artisan complex, which was once a nunnery.  Enjoy the lovely architecture and explore the old patios and find a great variety of artisanware that has made Pátzcuaro a shopper’s Paradise.

One of the most beautiful images – and one of the most representative of Pátzcuaro – is the Templo del Sagrario, built in the Seventeenth century.  Don Vasco de Quiroga was responsible for getting the construction started, but it took two centuries to complete.  It was originally the Santuario la Virgen de la Salud de Pátzcuaro, until it was transferred to the Basílica in 1908.  The boroque altar is stunning.

Templo del Sagrario in Patzcuaro
Templo del Sagrario in Patzcuaro

7.  Ex Colegio Jesuita and Templo de la Compañía

During your visit, check out the billboard of events at the Ex Colegio Jesuita (ex Jesuit college).  The art shows are changing constantly, and concerts are regularly held in the small auditórium downstairs.  It’s just two block from the Hotel Mansión Iturbe!

The Jesuits ran the Colegio de San Ignacio until 1767 – the year they were expelled from New Spain.  The building had various uses and was eventually abandoned.  Only in 1990, citizens spearheaded the revitalization of the building, which was totally restored in 1994.  In 2003, the Secretary of Culture took over and established it as the Cultural Center.

Ex Jesuit College in Patzcuaro
Ex Jesuit College in Patzcuaro

At the south end of the Colegio, we find the lovely Templo de la Campañia, built in the 16th century.  It served as the provisional cathedrel (Catedral de San Salvador) until 1566.

8.  La Plaza Gertrudis Bocanegra (La Plaza Chica)

Located one block north of the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga and the Hotel Mansión Iturbe, this plaza is the second-most-important plaza in Pátzcuaro.  Long ago, it was the site of the Cloister of the Templo de San Agustín.  It is named after the heroine of Independence, Doña Gertrudis Bocanegra, who was originally from Pátzcuaro.  In the center of the plaza is a large bronze status of her.

Gertrudis Bocanegra Square in Patzcuaro
Gertrudis Bocanegra Square in Patzcuaro

9.  Sanctuary of Guadalupe

This is an excellent example of nineteenth-century neoclassical architecture.  From its tall tower, we can see four figures representing Moderation, Charity, Strength, and Faith.  Don Feliciano Ramos ordered the structure build to fulfill a promise to the Virgin of Guadalupe to replace a chapel built in the seventeenth century.

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Patzcuaro
Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Patzcuaro

10.  La Plaza de San Francisco

The Pottery Market is held every Friday morning at the Plaza de San Francisco.  You can’t miss this event, where you will find pottery from the different communities around the lake.

Pottery Market at Plaza San Francisco in Patzcuaro
Pottery Market at San Francisco Square in Patzcuaro

* * *

These are only some of the most representative areas in Pátzcuaro we recommend that you visit.  Pátzcuaro is a place to enjoy and immerse youself in the diversity of our cultures and identities.

Finally, give yourself time to delight your palate and discover traditional Michoacán cuisine and the Mexican Cuisine which has been declared a National Heritage by UNESCO.  And it’s available in Restaurante Doña Paca in the Hotel Mansión Iturbe, facing the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga itself.
Restaurante Doña Paca in Patzcuaro
On your next trip to Pátzcuaro, discover why it is considere one of the loveliest Typical Towns in Mexico, with these ten must-see places, all within a stone’s throw of Mansión Iturbe.
*Text and Pictures Property of Hotel Mansión Iturbe.

We invite you to check more post in our blog, you will find information that we hope will be useful for your next trip to Pátzcuaro. Here are some post that we recommend you to check:

Day of the Dead in Pátzcuaro

Palm Sunday in Patzcuaro, the beginning of Holy Week

Festival of Corpus Christi in Patzcuaro
Hotel Mansion Iturbe
Portal Morelos 59
Plaza Vasco de Quiroga
61600 Patzcuaro, Mich.
Tels: +52 (434) 342 0368 / 342 3628
Fax: +52 (434) 342 3627
Toll free fax number from USA & CANADA: 1-866 678 6102
For more information from our hotel in Patzcuaro: www.mansioniturbe.com
Amadeus: ON MLMMAN
Sabre: ON 16297
Galileo: ON 24977
Worldspan: ONMLMM