Few cities in Mexico have quite as much history as Morelia. Situated in the west of the country, it is the birthplace of several heroes of Mexico’s war of independence and some of the nation’s best-known artists and composers. It is also a strikingly beautiful city and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The capital of the state of Michoacan, Morelia is located in the fertile Guayangareo Valley and lies halfway between Mexico City and Guadalajara, the two largest cities in Mexico. Surrounded by picture-postcard lakes, it is also one of the country’s most important cultural centres, boasting enough attractions and museums to satisfy even the most demanding of sightseers. Regarded as one of Mexico’s most handsome colonial cities, its old town is made up buildings erected between the 16th and 19th centuries, while its cathedral is topped by the highest Baroque towers in the whole of Latin America.

The surrounding area is not without its delights either. Morelia’s caves, creeks, lakes and woodland attract some 1.5 million visitors a year, making it the country’s most popular inland tourist destination. The jewel in its crown is the Santuario de Las Mariposa Monarcas, where millions of Monarch butterflies hibernate every year.

The people of Morelia are rightly proud of their football team Monarcas, now considered one of the biggest sides in the Mexican league and regular title contenders. Winners of the 2000 Invierno title, the men in red and yellow have come close to championship success on several other occasions.

Morelia’s home ground is the Estadio Morelos, also known as El Coloso del Quinceo. This modern stadium has a capacity of 41,056 and is among the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.