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Tourism in MERIDA: Capital City of YUCATAN

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Merida is one of Mexico’s most important colonial cities, an architectural jewel traditionally known as “La Ciudad Blanca” (The White City). The Mayan World with the generous hospitality of its people surrounds it. It features traditional neighborhoods, tree-lined stately avenues, world class services, varied cuisine, night life and modern installations which guarantee your business success as well as an indelible memory of a unique experience.

Mérida has become the “Medical Capital of the South-east Mexico” with a vast network of hospitals, clinics, laboratories as well as private and public doctor’s offices; the health care in the city is excellent and very affordable. Many doctors are English-speaking, often having done their training in the United States; the facilities are state of the art but cost less.

Every Sunday there is a festival of colors, smells and sounds in the main plaza and the Hidalgo, Santa Lucia, de la Madre and Americas Parks, where several musicians serenade the public with a variety of famous Yucatan folk songs.

At nights, Mérida can be a fascinating experience riding on a four-wheeled calash, open-air cafés, restaurants, serenades, concerts and nightlife.

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Tourist Attractions in MERIDA

Paseo Montejo

Paseo Montejo
Paseo Montejo

Designed to emulate the Champs Elysees, it will delight the visitors with its three story mansions with their balconies, harmonious lines, vivid color and pointed tower. Along this avenue stand some of the oldest and most beautiful constructions in the city like: Casas Gemelas, Casa Peón del Minarete, Casa Peón de Regil, Casa Vales, and la Quinta Montes Molina. The last one is open to public and displays lams, mirrors, paintings, furniture, limoges, chine and sculptures, among other things.

Palacio Cantón

It was built from 1904 to 1911. Is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, presently houses the Museum of Anthropology and History, with an exhibition of important pieces of the Mayan culture. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 20:00 hrs and Sunday from 8:00 to 14:00 hrs.

A monument to Justo Sierra and Felipe Carrillo Puerto

The first statue in Paseo Montejo was placed in honor of Dr. Justo Sierra O’Reilly in 1906. Two decades later, in 1926, another monument was placed honoring Felipe Carrillo Puerto, founder of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Yucatán and governor of the state in 1922.

Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland).

It is the only monument carved directly in the stone in the whole world. The 14-meter high (45.93 ft.) statue faces due south along the Paseo. The Colombian artist Rómulo Rozo created it. Numerous symbols representing the pre-Hispanic past are carved on this colossus. The columns represent the different states of Mexico.

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Palacio de Gobierno (State Government Building)

It is a nice example of the early 20th century with an eclectic style blending some elements of classical architecture. Inside, the outstanding feature is a large courtyard. This neo-classical building houses 27 large murals by Yucatecan artist Fernando Castro Pacheco with scenes from Maya and Mexican history. Open daily from 8:00 to 21:00 hrs.

Mérida - Cathedral
Mérida – Cathedral

Cathedral of Merida

It is the oldest cathedral on the American continent. It was built 19 years after the founding of Mérida, in 1561. Designed in the somber Renaissance style by an architect who had worked on the Escorial in Madrid, its facade is stark and unadorned. The towers have a Moorish style. Inside, the black Cristo de las Ampollas (Christ of the Blisters) is 23 feet tall, the tallest Christ in Mexico inside a church. The Cathedral displays baroque altarpieces.

Casa de Montejo (House of Montejo)

Built between 1543 and 1549 by the founder of the city, Francisco de Montejo. Its façade stands out for its stone engravings in the Spanish plateresque architectural style, a jewel of the plateresque style.

Plaza Grande

The plaza is a comfortable and informal place to gather with friends. The park is full of trees and picturesque benches. Mérida’s oldest buildings, beautiful in their scale and composition, surround the square.

Palacio Municipal (City Hall)

Built in 1735, was used as granary and jail. There is a coat decorating the wall of the staircase, this is the oldest in the city. The high wall in the backyard is a vestige of the Mayan pyramid Chaam Baklum. Every Monday at 21:00 hrs, a folkloric ballet performs the typical “vaquerías” along the portals.

Olimpo Cultural Center
Olimpo Cultural Center

Centro Cultural Olimpo

A large, modern building that hosts art exhibits, films, and lectures. It houses the Arcadio Poveda Ricalde Planetarium, where visitors can enjoy fascinating journeys into the Cosmos. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.

Teatro Daniel Ayala (Theater)

Constructed in a big house built during the 17th century. In 1987 the property was restored and new services and facilities were included. Since then it is used as an artistic and cultural arena, presenting theater, as well as dance and music shows. Parque Hidalgo – It is the second most important park in the city. Small outdoor restaurants lined in front of the park. It is a nice place to buy some crafts and watch the craftspeople at work.

Teatro Mérida (Theater)

It houses three state of the art venues: the Sala Principal, which holds 1,200 spectators; the Cineteca, with a 227-seat capacity; and the Sala de Arte (Art room), for 101 people. Templo de Jesús de la Tercera Orden (the Third Order Church) – A 17th century church, a real jewel of the baroque architecture. It has the richest interior of any church in Mérida, there are beautiful fresco paintings depicting biblical scenes. On the other side of the church is the Parque de la Madre (Mother’s Park), with a copy of Renoir’s statue of the Madonna and Child.

Teatro Peón Contreras (Theater)

Built in 1908, with its white marble stairs, and its seats decorated in a Rococo-style. Today it is the most important cultural enclosure in the state and is home to the Yucatán Symphony Orchestra.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, MACAY (Contemporary Art Museum)

Located in a building from the 17th Century, the museum has more than 400 contemporary art pieces. Open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 hrs. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00 hrs.

Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán

Here it was founded the “Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Javier” in 1624. Today it houses the University’s head offices, a library, an auditorium, dance and music rooms, and the gallery for the University Cultural Center.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, MACAY
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, MACAY

Mercado de Artesanías, Bazar García Rejón (Craft Market)

Many interesting objects and crafts from the region are available in this picturesque market.

Museo Numismático (Numismatic Museum)

Displays more than 2 000 coins reflecting México’s history. Open Saturday and Sundays 9:00 to 13:30 and from 16:30 to 20:30 hrs.

Museo de la Indumentaria Mexicana (Traditional Attire Museum)

An exhibition of beautifully crafted regional outfits and pre-Hispanic dresses. Furthermore, outfits can be sold or rented. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 to 19:00 hrs.

Museo Conmemorativo de la Inmigración Coreana a Yucatán (Korean Museum)

The museum displays the history of the first Koreans in Mexico, who labored in the henequen fields. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00 hrs.

Felipe Carrillo Puerto Theater

The Art Deco-style building was constructed in 1958 with a capacity of 289 people. It is the forum for concerts, and many cultural events. There is a gallery space in the lobby.

Armando Manzanero Theater

It was formerly the Merida Cinema. Today it has three forums equipped with the latest technology: the Main Hall with a capacity for 1,450 spectators, the Cinematheque Manuel Ponce Barbachano for 227 people, and the Arts Cinema for 101 people.

Iglesia de las Monjas (Church of the Nuns)

This Gothic building was built in the 16th century. From the top of the convent you can enjoy a nice panoramic view of the city. The cloisters have been converted into a cultural center, the Casa de Cultura del Mayab, which houses the “Casa de las Artesanías” the state handicrafts store, where you can admire and purchase items made by artisans of the Yucatan and the rest of the country.

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San Cristóbal Neighborhood

Museo de La Ciudad de Mérida
Museo de La Ciudad de Mérida

Museo de la Ciudad de Mérida (City Museum)

Located in the grand old post office building, displays an interesting exhibition about the historical development of the city of Mérida, from the pre-Hispanic times until our times. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00 hrs.

Mercado Lucas de Gálvez

Visitors can buy all sorts of food, crafts, jewelry, and other picturesque objects.

San Benito Market

Since 1667 this plaza used to be the “Ciudadela de San Benito”. After the independence, it became part of a jail until 1895. Then in 2004, the space was transformed into a market, where you can pick up the freshest seasonal produce and some crafts from the region.

Mercado de Artesanías, Bazar García Rejón (Handcraft Market)

A visit to this market can become a fascinating tour. This is the ideal place to buy different items and crafts of the region, such as leather sandals, clothing, jewelry, hammocks, palm-fiber hats, and locally made liqueurs, among others.

Iglesia de San Cristóbal

A nice church constructed from 1756 to 1796. It was the last one built during the colonial era.

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Parque de las Américas y Centro Cultural La Ibérica (Las Americas Park and Cultural Center)

Parque de las Américas (Americas Park)

This beautiful park is divided into four sections. The first one is a playground, where you can rent rollerblades and bicycles to ride around the park. The second, there is a replica of a Mayan hut, housing the Library Jose Marti with some murals depicting important Latin American historic events made by the artist Bolaños Gallardo. The third section has an amphitheater, where you can watch the most varied shows and performances. The fourth has a monumental stone fountain representing the Mayan deities like Kukulcan and Chaak.

La Ibérica Cultural and Recreational Center

For many years this building was a hospital, until the early 60’s. Today is a Cultural Center offering workshops for seniors and the degree in Music by the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán (ESAY).

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Santiago Neighborhood

Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol

This church is located where the Spaniards found the first native settlement when they came to T’ho. They conquerors named it Santiago. This is the building where the first mass took place in the city.

Parque Zoológico del Centenario
Parque Zoológico del Centenario

Parque y Mercado de Santiago (Park and Market)

This neighborhood with a unique and special character make an atmosphere of special reminiscence. There are cinemas, a traditional market (Santos Degollado), and some nice shops. There is a cultural program called “Remembranzas Musicales” (Musical Memories), where every Tuesday locals and visitors alike share old.

Parque Zoológico del Centenario (Merida’s Zoo)

The zoo has an aviary, a reptile house, a section for primates and one for mammals. There is also a playground and a gallery. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs. The playgrounds are open from 6:00 to 18:00 hrs.

Museo de Historia Natural (Natural History Museum)

It is located in an early-20th century mansion. The museum’s exhibitions are related with the universe, the earth evolution, and the different stages in life. This museum has educational and recreational purposes.

Pinacoteca “Juan Gamboa Guzmán” (Picture Gallery)

Exhibits Painting from colonial times and Gottdiener bronze sculptures, which portray accurately the Yucatan rural of the 19th Century. Also houses occasional temporary exhibits. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs. and Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 hrs.

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Santa Ana and Santa Lucía Neighborhoods

Santa Lucía Park
Santa Lucía Park

Iglesia y Parque de Santa Lucía (Park and Church)

The construction started at the end of the 16th Century, and ended in1620. The rectangular entrance is framed in quarry. The church features a nice stained-glass window and a belfry. Bordered by an arcade on the north and west sides, the park hosts popular entertainment several evenings a week, including a performance of Yucatecan songs by famous troubadours and the Yucalpeten Orchestra on Thursday nights (shows start at 9, but come early if you want to sit close to the performers). On Sunday, couples also come to dance to a live band.

Iglesia de Santa Ana

It was completed in 1733, and it was constructed-presumably over the foundation of a pre-Columbian Mayan edification.

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San Sebastián Neighborhood

Iglesia y Parque de San Sebastián

The oldest section in the church was built in 1796, and since then it has been renovated several times. San Sebastián is one of the oldest and more traditional areas in Merida. Every August the San Sebastian Fair takes place in here.

La Ermita de Santa Isabel (Hermitage of St. Isabel or Good Travel)

It was built in the 17th Century. It was also a spot where tired travelers coming the other direction could find lodging and refreshment before entering Mérida. It has a botanical garden and an artificial waterfall. Open daily from 9:00. to 18:00 hrs.

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La Mejorada Neighborhood

Iglesia de la Mejorada

Franciscan construction finished in 1610. Today the convent houses the State University’s school of Architecture.

Museo de Arte Popular (Popular Art Museum)

The museum displays more than 1,800 pieces of regional and national folk art. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 17.00 hrs. and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00 hrs.

Museo de la Canción Yucateca
Museo de la Canción Yucateca

Museo de la Canción Yucateca (Museum of Yucatecan Song)

Trova music is considered part of the cultural heritage of the Yucatecan people. This museum exhibits oil paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, personal effects and documents that belonged to the most representative musicians. Open Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs. Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 15:00 hrs.

Arco de Dragones (Arch of Dragons)

The name is because it was located next to the old Dragons Quarter. On the top of the arch there is a niche with a nice sculpture of Saint Francis.

Arco de Puente (Arch of Puente)

It was named after the street where it was built.

Centro Cultural del Niño Yucateco

In 1821 the convent and hospital of La Mejorada became the “Headquarter of Dragoons.” The property remained in the hands of the military until 1983. In 1989, the property was transformed into a Cultural Center, offering classes and workshops all year round for children.

Museo del Ferrocarril (Railway Museum)

Here the visitors can admire the history and evolution of the railroads in Yucatán. It exhibits more than 40 old railroad cars and lots of photos and documents from the past. Open Monday to Friday from 13:00 to 18:00 hrs.

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San Juan Neighborhood

Iglesia y Parque de San Juan

The church was built between 1769 and 1770. Inside the church there is a striking fountain called “La Negrita” which was brought from Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

Arco de San Juan

The arches were built around 1690, like many other arches in Mérida, they were erected to establish the city limits. This is one of the largest one in the city.

Izamá Neighborhood

Iglesia de Itzimná

A small chapel built in 1572 and renovated in 1710. It is located in one of the most beautiful and traditional corners in Merida. This is one of the most beautiful and traditional places of the city of Mérida.

Other Sightseeing

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya
Gran Museo del Mundo Maya

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (Great Museum of the Maya)

Modern cultural space considered one of the most important in Latin America. The museum features four permanent galleries that exhibit more than 500 important artifacts from the Mayan culture that captivates the attention of the visitor. It also offers a media room for the presentation of documentaries, a restaurant, a shop and a parking lot.

The museum has a magnificent and original light and sound show created and designed specifically for its unique architecture. The show is a pictorial work divided in different stories: The Creation of the World, The Appearance of the Land and the Sea, Men and Gods, The Ancient Mayas, and The Conquest and Memory of the Mayan World. The show takes place every night at 21:30, and 22:30 hrs. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.

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