• Folk Art and Culture
Archeological Sites
Nature Hikes
Weekend Side Trips

Cultural Activities

Pátzcuaro’s fiestas follow the Church calendar, but many—especially the dances—are also rooted in Purhépecha culture.   Major festivals are listed; however, each pueblo also celebrates its own Saint’s Day.  CELEP staff can tell you what fiestas are happening during your planned visit.  more...

Walking / hiking through Pátzcuaro’s countryside conveys a direct experience of the diverse ecology found in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin (“Cuenca”).  more...

Workshops enrich your experience with hands-on activities conducted in Spanish. more...

Discovering Pátzcuaro, Michoacán

When asked to name the most beautiful state in their country, most Mexicans name their own state first, then quickly add, “…and Michoacán!”  In 1991 Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  About 35 miles southwest of Morelia lies the colonial city of Pátzcuaro with its deep prehispanic roots.

In recognition of Pátzcuaro’s architectural beauty, its vibrant artisan tradition that flourishes to this day in the pueblos surrounding Lake Pátzcuaro, and the high-altitude drama of its countryside, the Mexican government has designated the city a Pueblo Mágico. Before the Spanish, Pátzcuaro was the ceremonial center of the Purhépecha empire, whose language, traditions, customs, and fiestas continue to enrich the life of today’s Patzcuarenses.

Travelers curious about Mexican culture and the natural environment are rewarded by a visit to this Mexican heartland.

Listed below is a representative group of activities that CELEP can arrange to enrich your visit to Pátzcuaro.

Pueblos—Folk Art and Culture

Vasco de Quiroga was an enlightened Church Bishop who arrived with the Spanish conquistadores yet was determined to protect the Purhépecha people from Spanish excesses. In order to assure that the Purhépecha could be self-sustaining under Spanish rule, he assigned specific crafts to each pueblo surrounding Lake Pátzcuaro.

Across the centuries, these crafts have been finely honed by local artisans, many of whose folk art objects today are world famous.  These walking tours introduce you to Purhépecha cultural history and awaken your awareness of the ongoing vitality of this important indigenous culturemore...

Archeological Sites:  Visitors to Pátzcuaro are often surprised to discover archeological ruins, including pyramids, in this part of Mexico. At its height, the Purhépecha Empire included the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato to the north, Colima on the Pacific Coast and Guerrero state to the south. The early people who settled on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro did so because they received a sign from their gods that this was to be their place. Thus it is that Pátzcuaro, “Door to the Heavens,” is the place where the gods descend (to earth) and rise (to the heavens).  more...

Weekend Side Trips

Michoacán holds many surprises and special experiences for adventurous students keen to explore nearby destinations.

Possible weekend adventures from Pátzcuaro include the lovely colonial capital of Morelia, and the beautiful Pacific Coast of Michoacán. CELEP staff can assist you with suggestions and help you to plan such excursions (music school now housed in former convent). more...

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