Merida is the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan. It was built by the Spanish over 400 years ago on top of a destroyed Mayan city and definitely warrants a visit to enjoy its colorful and diverse heritage. The city remained largely isolated throughout history, due to the historical difficulties associated with traveling to the area, and the people have created a distinct and uniquely contemporary culture. All the streets in this delightful city converge upon a spacious, parklike central plaza called the Plaza Grande (also known as the "Plaza de La Independencia"). A vibrant daily market is held here and there are innumerable small shops and restaurants nearby. Free concerts, street fairs and other events are held here daily, celebrating the culture and diversity of this unique city.
The lovely Plaza is overshadowed by an enormous old Cathedral. Directly across from the Cathedral is the Palacio Municipal, enhanced by ornate archwork and perfectly finished with an enormous clock tower. The restored Teatro Jose Peon Contreras is nearby, an ornate structure attesting to the wealth and sophistication of the region. Merida is referred to as the "White City" because of the widespread, traditional use of white limestone and white paint covering its charming architecture, and because it is all lovingly tended and kept incredibly clean by its residents.
From its outskirts, Merida first appears to be a rather scruffy, sprawling, unappealing city, but don’t let this put you off. At its core Merida’s heritage shines through, and the city is quickly becoming known as the cultural capital of the entire Yucatan Peninsula. The most attractive section of Merida is the very heart of the old city, where the Cathedral looms over the picturesque central square.
Fantasic regional dishes, traditional music performances and unique locally made art and souvenir items are plentiful in the areas located both around the Plaza Grande and in enormous haciendas along the Paseo de Montejo - a bustling European-flavored shopping experience not to be missed!
Merida is a perfect location for visitors seeking to experience the many rich archeological sites of the Yucatan, and is a popular hub for exploring the numerous Mayan ruins and ancient wonders including Chichen Itza, Mayapan, and Uxmal, all of which are within a few minutes to a day’s drive from the city.