Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatán and the perfect jumping off point to the New World Wonder, Chichén Itzá. The city was founded in 1542 by Francisco de Montejo y León, a Spanish man, over the Mayan city Ichkaansihó, which was already abandoned when the Spanish took over. In fact, many of the rocks and material that was used to build the Mayan city where reused to build the new colonial buildings. The city was named Mérida in honor of the founder’s hometown in Spain of the same name.
The center of Mérida is filled with history in every corner and decorated by colonial-style buildings and it comprises an area of approximately 4 square kilometers. The city is known as being one of Mexico’s most historic and cultural cities. It is divided into eight historical barrios (neighborhoods), which are the following: Itzimná, Barrio y Templo de San Juan, Barrio y Templo Parroquial de San Sebastián, Barrio y Templo Parroquial de San Cristóbal, Barrio y Templo Parroquial de Santa Ana, Barrio y Templo Parroquial de Santa Lucía, Parque de La Mejorada and Ermita de Santa Isabel.
Plaza de la Independencia – the main square of Merida where the main cathedral is found as well as Casa Montejo, the former house of the founder of the city and a theatre. It is located between streets 60 and 62. Close to the main square is a university campus where the main theatre of the city, Teatro Peón Contreras, is located.
Paseo de Montejo is the main and most important avenue connecting all the neighborhoods in the city and reaching its end in the highway to Progreso, a nearby beach town.
If you are into parks, then Merida will not disappoint you with over 10 parks scattered around the city, among them being Parque Arqueológico de Xoclán, Parque de la Colonia Alemán, Parque de la Madre and more as well as an aqua park “Acuaparque de Mérica” and a zoo “Parque Zoológico Animaya”. Plaza de Santa Lucía is a main point of interest as well as various music festivals are held here.
Cultural centers and museum abound here, so make sure to leave your schedule open and not try to see all of Merida in just one day. It’s impossible! The centers and museums worth visiting are (but not limited to) the following: