Archeology in Pátzcuaro and the surrounding area is rich in preserved integrity. This is because of the people's respect for both the Spanish colonial past and the pre-Hispanic Purépecha culture.This is where the ancient Chichimec chief Parácume and other descendants of the warlord Curátame chose to build their temples in the spot marked out by the omen of the four stones, the sacred number indicating that this was the ideal place to settle.
Pátzcuaro was the first capital of the Tarasco people. Towards the end of the year 1300, Tariácuri, founder of the Tarascan empire, divided the region into three administrative areas: Ihuatzio, Tzintzuntzan, and Pátzcuaro. Following the death of Hiquigare, governor of Pátzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan rose to political prominence, becoming the new Tarascan capital, while Pátzcuaro became a religious center. So it is that the archeological sites of Ihuatzio and Las Yácatas de Tzintzuntzan are within easy reach of Pátzcuaro.
Ihuatzio is one of the oldest Purépecha constructions. The site consists of two circular platforms varying in thickness from around 600 to 1,000 feet that form the base for a rectangular edifice. It is known that the purpose of the site was to host ceremonial rites and there is evidence of the worship of Chac-Mool, whose sculpture is now on display at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
One of the archeological sites closest to Pátzcuaro is Tzintzuntzan, home to the Yácatas, a series of Purépecha constructions dedicated to the gods. The Tarascans worshipped a number of gods who personified natural phenomena such as fire, the moon, the wind, etc. The people of the region were skilled craftsmen, and the exquisite sensitivity of the Purépecha has lived on in the modern inhabitants of Pátzcuaro and the beautiful towns that ring the lake.