Merida, Yucatan, Mexico


Merida is a city with a colonial atmosphere, where it is possible to perceive the historical legacy of the Mayan culture

About Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida is a colonial city founded in 1542 by conquistador Francisco de Montejo; it was named after the Spanish territory of Merida. Merida is located in the Mexican state of Yucatan, in southeast Mexico, and it was built over the remains of Ichcaanziho oT'Ho, an important city of the Mayan civilization, reason that explains the great presence of this culture in the traditions of Merida. Merida is also known as the "White City", due to the white buildings found by the Spaniards when they arrived; however, there is another version saying that the name is because the Spaniards wanted to make this place exclusively for white people.

The city had its splendor during the heyday of the great henequen haciendas in the region. Because of this, most wealthy landowners decided to settle in this city, building French-style large mansions along Paseo Montejo, the main avenue of Merida, whose design was inspired by the streets of Paris, where there are wooded corridors, numerous roundabouts, and monuments. Today, Paseo Montejo is the modern part of the city, an ideal place for tourism since it hosts prestigious hotels (some of them are set within the old mansions), numerous restaurants, bars, shops, and places such as the Monument to the homeland, the Monument to Montejo, and the Monument to Gonzalo Guerrero, considered the "Father of miscegenation."

On the other hand, the historic center is the place to see the more traditional side of Merida. There you can find markets and shops selling crafts, linen clothing, and food; the Main Square, meeting place for local people; the Cathedral of Yucatan, set in the surroundings, which claims to be the oldest cathedral in Mexico; plus Yucatecan restaurants and coffee shops. Other places you can visit include the Hall of history in the Government Palace, which exhibits murals depicting the history of the city; the Fernando Garcia Ponce Museum, exhibiting contemporary art; and the Museum of the Yucatecan Song, in honor of the trova genre that was born in Mérida.

Other prominent places in the city of Merida include the Grand Mayan World Museum, which houses 800 archaeological pieces from the Mayan civilization; the Yucatan Siglo XXI Convention Center, where theatrical shows and artists of the national music scene are presented; Centennial Park Zoo, which features a recreation area with rides; and Altabrisa, the largest shopping center of the city.

Merida is a starting point to visit places such as Puerto Progreso, and the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah and Chichen Itza, whose main pyramid is considered one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". In addition, in the surroundings of Merida you will find a great number of sink holes of crystalline waters, where you can go swimming or snorkeling.

***The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).