Named after the Iberian city of the county of
Badajoz, known at the time of the Roman as Emerita Augusta, and
regarded, later, as the Spanish Roma, Mérida, capital of
the state of Yucatán, was founded on January, 06, 1542 by
Francisco de Montejo. His own father founded Chichén
Itzá 15 years earlier but the Indians made him leave.
He went back to Spain, living on a high pension and marrying a rich
widow. But the second Montejo waited for the right time and launched
from Campeche, the city he founded
in 1540, a second invasion. Most columnist agree, his campaign was
perfect, and tell how tell how 400 well motivated Spanish dominated
and routed 40 000 well armed Indians assembled around the old Maya
city of Tho or Tiho. This Homeric battle occurred at the very place
of the actual Cathedral of Mérida. The Conquest of Yucatán
started this day but took 155 years to acheve because of the hunger
for freedom of the Mayas.
of its location, Merida is a quite hot (an average of 26°C or
80°F all year long) but pleasant city, encouraging nonchalance.
The nature is rich and lush, the gardens are of good size and fresh.
Everything leads to the well being and makes Mérida a nice
place to stay. The Mexicans called it the "white" city
for its cleanliness. Actually, the city is not as clean as before
but you still can enjoy the colonial heritage in downtown. Whatever
the amount of time you are allowed, you have to start the visit
by the Zócalo, the place of independence. It is the geographic
center of the city as well as an easy meeting point because the
streets are all numbered from there: the uneven numbers pointing
out the east-west streets and the even numbers pointing out the
Allow at least one day for the visit of the city of Mérida
city has a plain colonial architecture. In the historic center,
facing the plaza of Independence, is the Palace of Governor which
was inaugurated on September 15, 1892. This neo-classical building
houses several murals from the Yucatecan Fernando Castro Pacheco
(1886-1966). They are regarded as being the most important ones
of the state. These paintings tell the life and history of the Mayan
people, since the Conquest to the Caste war. The palace is open
daily from 9AM to 9PM, admission free.
The Cathedral San
Ildefonso, imposing, built between 1562 and 1598, overlooks the
Zócalo. Its simple and solemn façade has two towers
and three porticos. There is the coat of arms of the first Mexican
Empire above the statues of the apostles. This basilica type construction
has three naves and twelve columns and the most ancient cupola in
Mexico. Inside offers nothing special.
a 180m (5400feet) wide plaza with several time centenarian trees,
is the perfect spot for resting between two visits and for getting
the services of the numerous shoe shiners; it is also the best place
to sit and listen to the rumors of the city before visiting it,
to let oneself be overwhelmed by the first impressions and sensations
from this new place. On Sunday morning, the city band plays a few
musical pieces. Before the Conquest, the actual Zócalo was
an important ceremonial Maya center : The temple to H-Chum-Caan
stood in the middle, surrounded by other less important pyramids
and temples. The Spaniards and the overzealous missionaries that
followed them destroyed every one of these pagan buildings. But
they kept the plan of the site and used the ruins to build their
own constructions. And so, the Cathedral and most of the churches
of Mérida, were edified with the stones of the ancient Mayan
On the right side
of the Cathedral, you can visit the Macay Museum, contemporary art
museum housing permanent and temporary exhibitits of sculptures,
paintings and photos (open 10AM-6PM, Wed-Mon, free entrance).
Go and see the
Palace of Montejo called Casa de Montejo : the Plateresque style
facade is the work of Mayan craftsmen. Its doorway shows the coat
of arms of Montejo with two armed conquistadors on each side. Each
of these conquistadors stands on grimacing heads, symbol of the
Conquest. Other personages and designs complete the picture. The
inside nowadays houses a bank. This house, built in 1542 by the
founder of the city, belonged to its descendants until 1832.
North of the cathedral,
in a seventeenth century house, the Museum of the City (open 9AM-8PM,
Tue-Frid and 9AM-2PM, Sat-Sun, free admission) tells the history of Mérida.
New location : Calle 65 between calle 56 & 56A.
Stroll up the calle
60 to admire this street lined with small plazas and gardens with
many musicians (parque Hidalgo and parque de la Madre). On Hidalgo
plaza, the Church of the Third Order (Tercer Orden), is set on a
land that belonged to the Jesuits until 1767. It is the favorite
of the High Society of Mérida for weddings. It houses a wonderful
plateresque style altar made of golden wood.
North of the Zócalo
(corner of Calle 60, between calle 57 & 59), you can also visit
the Peón Contreras Theater (free admission, open 9AM-6PM,
Tue-Sat). It was built in 1900 in the style of the European theaters
with many marble columns, a big cupola and frescos. It was completely
restored in 1981.
Many exhibits and celebrations are set there all year long.
In front, the Autonomous
University of Yucatán, with an eclectic style, has a nice
baroque gate from the seventeenth century. The folkloric ballet
has a show in the inside patio every Friday at 9PM (fee MXN$35)
except August and September as well as the last two weeks of the
year (corner 60 y 57).
Even more north,
a pleasant square called Plaza Santa Lucia (corner calles 60 and
55) holds the craft market on Sunday. Many Indigenous women of Yucatán
come there to sell their home made huipiles. Every Thursday, the
square is animated by folkloric ballets and serenades from 9PM.
To go to the Museum
of Anthropology and History, take the Paseo Montejo, a nice avenue
with beautiful houses from the early twentieth century, the result
of the prosperous exploitation of sisal. You can walk this avenue
or ride a carriage to discover the architectural details of the
The regional museum of anthropology and history of Mérida
is worth a visit as much as the one of México.
It is located in a very nice palace (Canton Palace, ancient house
of the governors), built in 1911 (open 8AM-5PM, Tue-
Sun, MXN$41, free admission on Sunday for Mexicans, located corner Calle 43 and
Paseo Montejo). The stones come from Europe. There is an excellent
and very complete presentation of objects of the Mayan art, on both
On Stroll, preferably
in the morning, in the municipal market Lucas de Gálvez,
located at the southeast of the Zócalo, with an unceasing
activity until dust (8PM on weekdays and 5PM on Sunday). The whole
neighborhood overflows with shops. While walking between the picturesque
stands of fruits, vegetables, sweets and typical spices, we discover
the wide variety of exotic ingredients that comprise the Yucatán
food. The streets 65 and 67, facing the street 56, are reserved
for local crafts.
You can choose all the sisal items you want (bags, hats). You can
also find very comfortable cotton or nylon hammocks. Housed under
arches, now occupied by small shops, the old grain market has retained
the atmosphere of colonial markets.
For shopping, see
also the Casa de las Artesanias, calle 63 #503, between
64 and 66, open everyday from 9AM
and the Plaza Artesanal Santa Lucia, calle 60 # 469 between 53 and
55 (open daily 7AM-9PM). For the hammocks, we recommend the shop
Hamacas El Aguacate, corner calles 58 and 73, open on weekdays from
8AM to 7PM and on Saturday 8AM-5PM. Buy preferably a matrimonial
(full size) in nylon or cotton. In all cases, discuss the price.
You shoud not pay more than MXN$300.
Each Saturday, from 8PM to 1AM, the streets are closed to make room
for the party. Also on Sunday, the historic center is closed to
traffic between 9AM and 9PM to allow for recreational, cultural
and gourmet activities : painting, music, dances, theater, books
and local craft type hats, hammocks, typical shirts, embroidered
dresses, confectionary, etc...
City map of Mérida :
Aucun produit culturel dans la boutique
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