Morelia mōrā´lyä [key], city (1990 pop. 489,756), capital of Michoacán state, W Mexico. It is the commercial and processing center of an irrigated agricultural and cattle-raising area. Founded as Valladolid in 1541 by Antonio de Mendoza, Morelia is built on a rocky hill and is surrounded by a fertile valley at the western edge of the central plateau. High peaks border the valley on three sides. The climate is warm and healthful. The city is supplied with water by an aqueduct dating from the colonial period. The most imposing Spanish structure is the cathedral, begun in 1640; colonial architecture, some modern buildings, and shaded plazas give the city a pleasant atmosphere. The Colegio de San Nicolás, founded (1540) in Pátzcuaro and transferred in 1580 to Morelia, is the oldest institution of higher learning in Mexico. Morelia was the birthplace of Agustín de Iturbide and of the patriot José María Morelos y Pavón, for whom it was renamed in 1828.

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