Lago de Pátzcuaro

Expansive lake Pátzcuaro is at the tranquil heart of Michoacán, upon whose shores the Tarascan empire rose and fell. One of the most populous and successful civilizations in Mesoamerica, the Tarascans were a formidable sparring partner of the Aztecs, although comparatively little is known about them. A handful of sites offer tentative glimpses of their world, most notably the capital of Tzintzuntzan, where five curious pyramids overlook the lake like a line of stationed sentries, but little else. Fortunately their living descendants, the Purépecha, maintain a vivid link to the pre-Hispanic past with dazzling festivals, dances and ceremonies that hint at a religiosity as devout as it is vibrant. More than this, the Purépecha are Mexico's most skilled artisans, continuing the vision of Bishop Vasco de Quiroga, who sought to make each community a centre of self-sufficient industry. Today, most villages specialize in a particular craft, like Santa Clara de Cobre, with its robust and internationally recognized traditions of copper-work. The lake's main urban centre is Pátzcuaro, a beautifully rendered and lightly crumbling colonial town that's great for strolling, shopping and dining on freshly caught fish. This is the best base for exploring the countryside and a superb destination in itself.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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