COLIMA, capital of the state and 98km inland from Manzanillo, is a distinctly colonial city, and a very beautiful one too, overlooked by the perfectly conical Volcán de Colima and, in the distance, the Nevado de Colima. With a handful of sights inside the city limits and interesting excursions nearby, it’s a pleasant place to stop over for a night or two. Colima’s Old World ambience, favourable climate – cooler than the coast, but never as cold as in the high mountains – and several good-value hotels and restaurants add to its appeal.

Archeological evidence – much of it explained in the city’s museums – points to three millennia of rich cultural heritage around Colima, almost all of it wiped out with the arrival of Cortés’ lieutenant Gonzalo de Sandoval who, in 1522, founded the city on its present site. Acapulco’s designation as the chief Pacific port at the end of the sixteenth century deprived Colima of any strategic importance; this, in combination with a series of devastating earthquakes – the most recent in 2003 – means that the city has few grand buildings to show for its former glory. It makes up for this with a chain of shady formal plazas or jardíns – Colima is known as the “City of Palms” – and a number of attractive courtyards, many of which are now used as restaurants and cafés and make wonderfully cool places to relax. The central Plaza Principal (known as Jardín Libertad) is where you’ll find the government offices and the unimpressive Neoclassical cathedral, which dates from 1941.

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