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Historic Centre of Morelia
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-11-28 20:59:05 | Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
Keywords: history, UNESCO
Founded in the 16th century, Morelia is an outstanding example of the Spaniard city plans adapted to the relief of the location of the city. It's not extremely hilly... but it has one major hill in the centre of the city... and the layout was extremely well adapted to it. We find numerous plazas like in any Spaniard design and large avenues. Although the city has grown over time, the centre of the city remained mostly untouched, maintaining its structure and architecture.

Originally named Valladolid, the city gained popularity and played an important role in the 1810 Independence, since two of the major heroes of that fight were born in the city: Miguel Hidalgo and José Maria Morelos. It's to honour the second one that the city name was changed to Morelia in 1828.

Although the original buildings are there (there are over 200 of high architecture importance just in the area designated by the UNESCO in 1991) and the preservation is very good, there were some concerns about the integrity of the site.

First, many of the historic buildings now show a rock facade... without the original plaster recovering it. That uniqueness adds to the look of the city since you will find here more rock-face buildings than anywhere else I've seen so far. But it does hurt the integrity aspect. This is being corrected though, but slowly.

Then, there was a trend in the early 1990s to add a colonial facade to new, contemporary, buildings. This was probably a nice visual effect, but again impacting the integrity aspect of the site, since then it was becoming hard to know which was really old from what wasn't. This practice was highly restricted in 1993 by law.

The expansion of the city (now counting more than half a million people) forced reconversion of the historic buildings into other purposes. Most of the time, this was done in great respect of the original plans and structures. This was done to convert into new habitations but mostly for stores attracted by the visitors in the historic centre. I've seen some examples however that can leave some perplex... like basically converting an unused first floor of a building into a parking lot. From the outside, there's no way of saying it's a parking lot (besides the related signage)... but then you have cars parked on the first floor of a 200- or 300-year old building!

Despite the conservation challenges Morelia faced and still faces, it's a wonderful site to visit. Yes, it's in the state of Michoacan where there is lots of insecurity right now. But the troubles are mostly on the outskirts limits of the state, away from the capital, which is under tight protection not to chase the tourists away. Despite that fact, most hotels are almost empty and offer great deals.

Related posts:
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
Fortified city of San Miguel and Sanctuary
Historic town of Guanajuato
Historic centre of Zacatecas


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