Home Expat Blogs Exploring the Route of Don Vasco in Michoacán

Exploring the Route of Don Vasco in Michoacán

Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán, Mexico
Credit: Denisse Morelos

Before we begin exploring the Route of Don Vasco in Michoacán, or as we say in Spanish, Ruta Don Vasco, let me tell you a little about Don Vasco de Quiroga.

Vasco de Quiroga, or “Tata Vasco,” was the first bishop of the state of Michoacán. He was born in Spain but arrived in Michoacán in 1540 at the age of 60. During his time in Michoacán, he founded more than 200 hospital villages and had to fight for his revolutionary ideas repeatedly in response to aggression from nobles and clergy.

Don Vasco de Quiroga was inspired by “Utopia,” a work of fiction and socio-political satire by Thomas Moore, to promote the hospital villages he created as a new model for a more equitable and sustainable society. Don Vasco proposed a revolutionary social concept based on the ideals of humanism: justice and dignity.

So, with this background in mind, let’s visit Michoacán to explore the route of Don Vasco.

As you travel along the route, you will see the image of Don Vasco often, which is crucial for you to fully understand the story of the places you are about to explore. The towns and cities were based on his planned communities.

The crafts of Michoacán also are the fruits of Don Vasco’s social concept of society, as well as the chapels, convents and palaces that reflect the stonework that Don Vasco began.

If you feel hungry, you should try the wonderful food of Michoacán, a tasty fusion of many cultures. And if you are lucky, you can even enjoy a pirekua, or song in purépecha (the language of the indigenous people from the northwestern part of the state), declared a Heritage of the Humanity because Latin harmony and instruments of the old world are used in the performance.

Cathedral Morelia in Michoacán, Mexico
Credit: Luise Garcia

There are so many things to do and see on the Don Vasco route, but let’s start our journey in the state capital, Morelia, which was founded in 1541 as Valladolid. Its extraordinary historical center, built in the 17th century with the characteristic pink quarry of the region, was named a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1991. The city’s center has many historical sites such as the imposing Cathedral of Morelia, the Government Palace, former convents like San Francisco- where the Institute of the Craftsman is located – and the first conservatory of America, the Conservatory of Roses, which is home to the city’s choir of singing children.

From Morelia the route leads to Pátzcuaro, a Pueblo Mágico founded by Don Vasco. On the shore of the lake of the same name, Pátzcuaro is a peaceful town of cobbled streets, stately homes, tree-lined squares and portals that are always crowded. The town preserves the provincial charm of its slopes, its fountains, its temples and its daily rituals.

Masks of Tócuaro, Michoacán, Mexico
Credit: Denisse Morelos

Just a 15-minute drive from Pátzcuaro, is Tócuaro, which is internationally known for its beautiful wooden masks. Less than a half hour away is Santa Clara del Cobre, another Pueblo Mágico that is well-known for everything copper. In Santa Clara, copper is a way of life. During the colonial era, the town was known for the quality of the work of its artisans. Its copper became known worldwide when it was used as the base for the torch that was lit to begin the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

I invite you to take the route of Don Vasco in Michoacán if you want to explore some truly remarkable places that offer the very best of Mexico and its people. If you want more information, please contact me directly at denisse.morelos@gmail.com.


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