South of the lake and just west of Hwy 120 lies this enormous religious compound built partly with stones from the Purépecha yácatas (temples) taken from the site up the hill. This is where Franciscan monks began the Spanish missionary effort in Michoacán in the 16th century. The complex is composed of two churches fronted by shady olive trees in the churchyard planted by Vasco de Quiroga. Most of the monastery now houses a fascinating new museum.
The museum showcases Purépecha culture and history and documents the arrival of the Spanish and the people's conversion to Christianity via excellent displays set up in the cloisters, refectory and two open chapels. The galleries include a number of faded murals and Mudéjar-patterned wooden ceiling ornamentation, as well as a carved portal at the main entrance. A section of the first floor is also dedicated to rotating art exhibits. Signage is in Spanish and English. Attached is the stark Templo de San Francisco.