Morelia is Michoacán State's capital—its long, wide boulevards and earth-tone colonial mansions earned it its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1541 as Valladolid (after the Spanish city), it changed its name in 1828 to honor José María Morelos, the town's most famous son. The legendary mule skinner–turned–priest led the battle for independence after its early leaders were executed in 1811.

Morelia's streets are almost always clogged with traffic, so it's best to see the city on foot—an easy task given the proximity of most sites to the main plaza. The city's well-preserved colonial buildings are today's offices, museums, shops, restaurants, and hotels. The magnificent 17th-century aqueduct, with its 253 arches, still carries water into the city.

Finding your way around Morelia can be a challenge, as street names change frequently, especially on either side of Avenida Madero, the city's main east–west artery. Buses run the length of Avenida Madero.

Morelia is always more fun if you start with a trip on the Tranvía (city sightseeing bus) that departs from La Plaza de Armas, next to the cathedral. It offers tours of the city with stops at various spots, including the Museo del Dulce, where you can see a demonstration of how the city's delicious confections are made. Morelia has the delicious distinction of being the candy capital of Mexico. In addition to the candy museum, there’s an entire market devoted to candy (and lately, nondigestible souvenirs), called the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías.

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