1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Morelia

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MORELIA (formerly Valladolid), a city of Mexico and capital of the state of Michoacán, 125 m. direct and 234 m. by rail W. by N. of the city of Mexico, near the southern margin of the great Mexican plateau, 6398 ft. above sea-level, in lat. 19° 42′ N. long., 100° 54′ W. Pop. (1900), 37,278, partly Indians and mestizos. Morelia is served by a branch of the Mexican National railway; its station is outside the city, with which it is connected by a small tramway line. The city is built on a rocky hill rising from the Guayángareo valley, which gives to it a strikingly picturesque appearance. It has the usual rectangular plan, with several pretty squares and straight, clean, well-paved streets. Facing the plaza mayor, now called the Plaza de los Martíres because of the execution there of the patriot Matamoros in 1814, is the cathedral, one of the finest specimens of the old Spanish renaissance church architecture in Mexico.

Among its interior adornments is an onyx font, some fine wood carving in the choir, and the silver doors to the shrines of its chapels. Opposite the cathedral is the government palace, which also contains the public library. The municipal government is housed in an ancient tobacco factory converted to public uses, and a fine old Capuchin convent now serves as a public hospital. The Paseo, or public park, is distinguished for its fine trees and flowers. The Morelianos are noted for their love of music, and musical competitions are held each year, the best band being sent to the city of Mexico to compete with similar organizations from other states. The public water-supply is brought into the city over a fine old aqueduct (3 m. in length, carried on arches), which was built in 1785 by the bishop of the diocese as a famine relief work. In common with the state of Michoacan, Morelia is a stronghold of clericalism and conservatism. A large number of private schools are maintained through Church influence in opposition to the public schools. Conspicuous among these is a large girls’ school. Another institution is the college of San Nicolas de Hidalgo, which was founded at Patzcuaro in 1540 by Bishop Quiroga (who had been sent into Michoacán to redress the wrongs committed by Nuño de Guzman), was removed to Valladolid (Morelia) a few years later to be combined with a local college, and was rebuilt in 1882. It is the oldest existing collegiate institution in Mexico; in it Hidalgo once taught and Morelos was a student. The city’s manufactures include cotton, woollen and silk textiles, cigars and cigarettes, and dulces, or sweetmeats, Morelia being noted throughout Mexico for the latter, particularly for a variety called Guayabate.

Morelia, first known as Valladolid, was founded in 1541 by Viceroy Mendoza. In 1582 Valladolid replaced Patzcuaro as the capital of Michoacan. It was the birthplace of both Morelos and Iturbide, and was captured by Hidalgo at the beginning of the revolutionary outbreak of 1810–11, and by Iturbide in 1821 when on his march to Mexico City, where he was crowned emperor. Its name was changed to Morelia in 1828, in honour of the revolutionary leader José Maria Morelos y Pavón, and in 1863 it was made the see of an archbishop.