Monarchs of Michoacan with Denver Botanic Gardens – Day 5

Guest blogger: Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture at Denver Botanic Gardens

Mexican Journal: Day 5 – Tzintzuntzan & Uruapan

Tzintzuntzan Archaeological Site, Mexico.

About 20 minutes from Patzcuaro is the Tzintzuntzan Archeological Site, which was built by the native peoples of the region, the Purépechas around 1200 AD. The name Tzintzuntzan means ‘place of the hummingbirds’. The ruins consist of five ceremonial temples with circular, terraced platforms. The Purépechas were a community of Native Americans who were the only ones who stood up to the Aztecs and were not defeated. Until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s the Purépechas had not known military defeat. From here we visit the town of Tzintzuntzan, where we visit the local church and the Franciscan monastery. Ancient olive trees line the avenue to the church. Being carnival day, the church is decorated in fresh flowers.

We then drive to the city of Uruapan, which is about an hour’s drive from Patzcuaro. As we get close to Uruapan, on either sides of the street are Avocado (Persea americana) farms. Uruapan is the avocado capital of the world and one of the oldest cities in Mexico. We visit a local avocado farm, where an elaborate lunch has been arranged for us. The manager of the farm then gives us a lesson on the history and cultivation of avocado in this region. Avocado cultivation in this region started in the 1950’s. The volcanic soil of this region makes it very conducive for avocado cultivation. The farm cultivates three different varieties of avocados, one of which is the variety ‘Haas’, which has a skin that peels off like a banana. The avocados here were the best tasting avocados that I have ever had!  

Ancient olive tree in Tzintzuntzan, Mexico.
Elaborate floral display at church in Tzintzuntzan, Mexico.
Avocado tree in Uruapan, Mexico, the avocado capital of the world.