The official language is Spanish, though a large percentage
of the indigenous population (some 350,000) throughout the
peninsula speak at least one of the 28 pre-Hispanic tongues.
Of these, the most commonly spoken are Yucatán Maya, Quiché,
Cakchiquel, Mam, Chontal, Tzotzil, Pokomchí and K'ekchí.
These tongues are part of a common linguistic group (Maya),
though with differences among them, and each with its own
is one of México's most tranquil and safest states, with a
climate resembling that of Florida or Cuba. Yucatecans are
good, tranquil and hospitable people who have strong roots
and traditions. They take pride in their city, known as "The
White City," not only for the predominance of white
limestone as a building material, but because of its
streets, plazas and parks that are cleaned daily. Because of
its tranquility and cleanliness, Mérida has become a popular
place for families from other Mexican states.
Mérida was originally
called T´ho or Ichcansiho by the Maya inhabitants, depending
on which chronicler you read. It was the principal city in
the Maya province of Chacan. The first Spaniards found a
large Maya commercial centre with ornate stone structures
that reminded them of the Roman ruins in Spain’s city of
Mérida - hence the name.
Mérida is known as the white city, its houses are white, the
clothing of its people is white, its children's smiles are
white, and white is the warm heart of its people. People
whose lives still reflect the grandeur of their Mayan
heritage. Paseo Montejo, a broad avenue boasting fantastic
colonial residences, invites us to walk the city and then
sit down to a bowl of lime soup, a plate of succulent
cochinita pibil (regional spicy pork dish) or any of the
multiple Yucatán´s dishes, among the richest and most varied
in the world. Mérida is the cultural and tourist heart of
the southeast. A multitude of destinations are easily
reached from the city, including: Beaches, archeological
zones, colonial cities, natural reserves. Mérida is both a
gateway to the past and a luminous present, a place where
centuries of history have been refined, waiting for
Mérida, erected on the ruins of a devastated indigenous
population, is an entire compendium of conquests and
isolation, of wars, but also of prosperity and wealth. The
prosperity of the Colony resulted from the exploitation of
the conquered people, and soon gave way to a “very Spanish”
city, whose name came from reminiscences of the other Mérida
that the Spaniards remembered.
The city was founded on January 6, 1542 by Fransisco de
Montejo "El Mozo" (The Younger), to celebrate his victory
over the Indians after 15 years of conflict. The city was
built on the original indigenous city of Ichcaanzihó, also
known as T´hó. The name was bestowed because “we found
well-constructed buildings of stone masonry with many
moldings, such as the Romans built in Mérida, Spain.” The
Maya Indians were forced to dismantle their temples and
palaces and use the materials to build homes, government
buildings, cathedrals, and parks that they were not
permitted to enjoy. Mérida became the capital and trade
centre of the Peninsula, the seat of civil as well as
Mérida enjoyed centralist urban development throughout the
colony period. The indigenous groups gradually consolidated
into neighborhoods because of the disproportionate growth of
the Spanish population. During the 17th and 18th centuries
the city established its limits by erecting seven “arches,”
built by a military engineer, Manuel Jorge de Zezera. Today
only three of these stand (San Juan, Dragones and Del
Puente) as silent witnesses to what the city once was:.
Geographic isolation from the center of the country resulted
in Yucatán's trade exchange taking other economic paths,
primarily dealings held with some spots in the United
States, Cuba and Europe. The wealth accumulated, but the
cost of two centuries of unfair subjugation of an enslaved
indigenous population led to a brutal confrontation in 1840,
known as the “War of the Castes.” This war resulted in the
downfall of the erstwhile strong economy of the peninsula.
The precarious situation that prevailed in the wake of this
war led powerful landowners to harbor ideas (thanks to
geographic and political isolation) of politically
separating the peninsula from the Republic, and a future
annexation to a foreign state. By 1880, once the situation
was overcome, the economy of the peninsula experienced a
boom that returned it to the wealth it had enjoyed during
including its capital city, became the leading producers of
henequén at the worldwide level. Henequén is a natural fiber
that is extracted from a certain type of agave, is used to
manufacture rope, sacks and bags, among other items; it
became the one of the cornerstones of the economy that gave
Mérida the splendor it enjoyed during the latter years of
the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century.
Mérida is a jewel in its own right, a colonial city of
unparalleled beauty where that which is Spanish and that
which is indigenous live in harmony and blend in every way.
Mérida is also the window to the fascinating Mayan world:
Mérida is the gateway to innumerable places that still
reflect the pre-Hispanic past of a culture that continues to
amaze Mexicans and foreigners alike.
and one of the more recent and spectacular finds the
The tourism potential of Mérida is present in such a broad
scope that even the most demanding of travelers will find
something to suit them: Ecotourism, archeology, beaches,
culture, handicrafts, nightlife, music, folklore, and so
The city of Mérida is the
capital city for the state of
is located in the northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula. To the
north of Mérida lies the Gulf of México, to the west and
southwest the state of
to the east and southeast the state of
DISTANCE IN KILOMETERS TO NEARBY CITIES AND POINTS OF
Puerto Progreso 33
Ría Lagartos 219
On the following holidays
banks, post offices and government offices, as well as many
stores, remain closed:
January 1 New
February 5 Day
of the Constitution
Benito Juárez´s Birthday
May 1 Labor
May 5 Battle
OTHER NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Though not considered
official holidays, the following are also important dates.
Some offices and/or establishments may not open on the
Epiphany (King’s Day in México)
February 2 Día
de la Candelaria (Religious Celebration)
March or April
Presidential Address to the Nation
November 1 All
November 2 Day
of the Dead
Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
December 1 - 24
Posadas (Religious Christmas Ritual and Party), pastorelas
(Christmas plays) and other Christmas celebrations;
Traditional Holidays and Festivities
Carnival in Mérida begins
40 days before Holy Week, during the month of February. The
celebrations always start on a Friday and last through
Tuesday of the following week. Jaranas and other traditional
dances fill the streets, hotels and homes of Mérida from
dusk to dawn.
HANAL PIXÁN, DAY OF THE DEAD:
Here, as well as in the
rest of the country, the Day of the Dead is celebrated. This
celebration is known as Hanal Pixán, which means “banquet of
the souls.” Families perform several ceremonies and rituals
honoring their deceased relatives by arranging offerings,
reciting rosaries and other prayers. It is a tradition to
visit the cemeteries where the deceased relatives have been
buried and take flower arrangements and candles as an
offering to the dead. It is believed that the souls of those
who rest in peace descend to take part of the offering and
ceremony; this is known as “taking grace.”
Las Vaquerías are
traditional festivities that take place several times a year
and start in the home of the main host referred to as “diputado.”
When the dances have already begun, in the form of a
procession, guests and musicians (jaraneros) depart from the
host’s house in search of either a silk-cotton or palm tree
stick to which everyone follows the angaripola rhythm. This
is later planted in the center of a bullfighting arena,
which is most of the time an improvised space where the
celebration takes place. Here dancers dance the traditional
“Danza de las Cintas” (Dance of the Ribbons) around the
sticks. The procession then dances toward a square platform
with a huge decoration made with branches surrounded by
chairs especially reserved for the female dancers.
Meanwhile, the musicians play traditional songs like the
“Torito” (Little Bull) for couples to dance to. This is
where most of the celebration takes place and as soon as the
musicians play the song of the “Dianas” everyone knows that
this is when the party comes to an end.
culinary tradition comprises over 300 different dishes and
the same number of variations of these dishes based on pork
and deer meat, seasoned with various types of chilies,
spices and onions. Among the most outstanding are:
Sopa de lima, Lime Soup:
A delicious broth served with shredded chicken,
fried tortilla strips and lime juice.
Pollo pibil, Pibil
Chicken: Chicken pieces marinated in annatto, sour
orange juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, then
wrapped in banana leaves and baked. The same dish can be
made with pork, and is called Cochinita pibil.
filled with diced hard-boiled egg and smothered in a "pepita"
sauce, pureed roasted pumpkin seeds.
Poc-Chu: Thin slices
of roasted pork, marinated in sour orange juice and
served with sauce and chopped onion.
Night life in Mérida
unfolds to the music of troubadours, but also to the
frenetic rhythms of its dance halls and discotheques, or to
the noisy party atmosphere of its many restaurants, where
delicious food and appetizers will give you the stamina
needed to stay up. The visitor and Mérida’s nightlife are
the perfect combination for an unforgettable evening.
PASEO DE MONTEJO
(1542): This magnificent avenue in the center of the
city allows the visitor to admire the grandeur of the homes,
mansions and elegant houses of the aristocracy of the
erstwhile henequén industry, all serving to grace Casa de
Montejo, or the Conquistador, whose stone portal is the main
monument standing of civil architecture of the mid-16th
century in México. This work is the purest example of the
plateresque style. The mansion was built in homage to the
founder of the city: Francisco de Montejo y León, and
partially inaugurated in 1904. Since that time there have
been several additions: In 1926, an additional 370 meters
were added and it reached the site of the Monumento a la
Patria (Monument to the Nation). In 1979, construction began
on another stage of the Paseo, which later became known as
Prolongación de Montejo. In 1993, yet another expansion took
place, and a monument was raised to Gonzalo Guerrero, deemed
to be the country’s Father of Mestizaje. In all, Paseo
Montejo, measures 5.438 meters with the extension.
HACIENDA YAXCOPOIL: Just minutes from the city of
Mérida, this construction dates to the 17th century and it
is now a museum featuring henequén and the history of the
landed gentry of the times.
MUSEO DE ANTROPOLOGÍA
E HISTORIA (MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY AND HISTORY): Located
on The Paseo de Montejo. Visitors can take a lengthy walk
through the history of pre-Hispanic
PLAZA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA (PLAZA GRANDE): The
plaza is located between streets 60, 61, 62, and 63. Dating
back to the time of the Colony, this plaza has been the hub
of Mérida’s social life, with bullfights, carnivals and
executions. Here people were punished for their idolatry or
other crimes, especially the indigenous population. Such was
the case of Jacinto Canek, the Indian who started the revolt
against the Spanish for abusing the Mayan people. Once the
rebellion was quelled, Canek was burned at the stake in
Plaza Grande. He is now considered to be a hero, a symbol of
indigenous dignity in the face of tyranny. Plaza Grande is a
beautiful park, lined by two majestic rows of trees and
surrounded by four architectural jewels: The Government
Palace, the Municipal Palace, la Casa de Montejo and the
EL PALACIO DE GOBIERNO (GOVERNMENT
PALACE) – BUILT IN 1892: This is a neoclassic
construction, typical of the 19th century. The two floors
are adorned with portals, interior patios and arcades. An
exquisite stone and cut rock staircase and a replica of the
Dolores bell in the central window are the centerpieces of
the building. It was built as a residence for governors and
captain generals for the province of
In 1883, the original building was demolished and a new one,
preserving the lines of the original project, was built and
concluded in 1892. On the upper floor is the Salón de Actos,
where the history of
is depicted on 27 gorgeous murals painted by Fernando Castro
PALACIO MUNICIPAL (MUNICIPAL PALACE) –
BUILT IN 1735: In 1871 the first public clock of the
city of Mérida was placed on this building. National
holidays were celebrated at the site (September 16, May 5)
until 1892, the year when the modern Government Palace was
inaugurated. Construction began in 1734. The historic
importance of the building is owed to the fact that here the
from the Spanish Crown was decided. In the town council hall
here one can admire a fresco that depicts a mestizaje
LA CASA DE MONTEJO – BUILT IN 1549:
Located on street 63, at streets 60 and 62. This was the
home of the Conqueror of
and founder of the city of Mérida, Francisco de Montejo, El
Mozo. What is still conserved intact of this work is the
façade and carved stone portico. The upper part is in the
gothic Elizabethan style with a marked indigenous influence.
There are two outstanding figures of warriors carved in the
sober plateresque style. The balcony of the upper floor
boasts the Montejo shield of arms.
(THE CATHEDRAL) – BUILT BETWEEN 1556 - 1599: Located on
Street 60 at 61 and 57-A. The towers and interior of this
building are done in the Moorish architectural style,
whereas the façade is pure Renaissance. The altarpieces are
baroque, and the relics on the walls are witness to the
historic events of Mérida’s history. Erected 19 years after
Mérida was founded (1542) by decree of King Felipe II, with
San Ildelfonso, Archbishop of Toledo named head of the city.
The building was concluded in 1598, with other details added
on at later dates. The only “civil” ornament it bears is the
national emblem of México during the colonial period. The
machinery of the enormous clock was made in London in 1731,
though it did not keep time until 1871. Mayan columns were
used to build part of the north wall of the church. The
visitor can admire the beauty of the Chapel of Christ of the
Blisters (1656), the baptistery and the Sagrario Chapel
(1904), the sacristy and the Chapel of San José (1610), as
well as the Chapel of Rosario (1610).
RÍA LAGARTOS (ANIMAL
is a paradise for those who love the outdoors. It is a
sanctuary with nearly 30,000 pink flamingos, deer, pheasant,
and crocodiles, among others. It is ideal for ecotourism.
THE CAVES OF LOL-TÚN:
or “place where rocks became flowers,” is partially explored
and not totally lit. Its beautiful rock formations, ancient
paintings and delicate pottery handicrafts are very much
worth the visit.
PUERTO PROGRESO (PROGRESO
PORT): Twenty minutes from Mérida are the beautiful
beaches of Puerto Progreso, which besides being one of the
main fishing and customs ports, has become a very popular
place for its warm and peaceful waters.
SISAL (PORT): Located
west of Mérida is this wonderful fishing port. Its virgin
sapphire beaches, fine white sand and peaceful waves will
without a doubt enchant you.
THE CELESTÚN BIOSPHERE:
Located on the border of
90 kilometers from Mérida, is the biosphere of
a place you must not miss. The estuary of the river is the
habitat of hundreds of pink flamingos and the reproduction
site of more than 70 bird species, reptiles such as black
crocodiles and hawksbill turtles, plus a diversity of fish.
Beautiful beaches, mangrove stands, jungles and the
petrified forest of Tampetén are all part of the wonderful
PARQUE DEL CENTENARIO
(CENTENNIAL PARK): The main attraction of the park is
the zoo where you can see animals like the African lion, the
Bengal tiger, a red lynx, hippopotamus, the sacred papion,
Niligai antelope, chimpanzees and peacocks. The zoo also
exhibits black bears, spiders and green monkeys, collar wild
pigs, whitetail deer, an ocelot, a puma and a tepezcuintle
(spotted cavy); birds such as toucans, pheasants, Inca dove,
eagles and flamingos are also part of the zoo’s exhibit. The
zoo also offers an aquarium and a snake exhibit.
EL PALMAR (ECOLOGICAL
RESERVE): El Palmar is one of the most important
ecological reserves in
This protected area shelters fascinating flora and fauna
species and is ideal for ecotourism.
(UNDERGROUND FRESHWATER SINKHOLES):
is famous for its underground crystalline rivers and
sinkholes, perfect for swimming after a long hot day.
Speleologists from around the world frequently visit
to study its underground caverns and cenotes. If you are the
kind of person that is in search of new experiences and
adventures you should visit some of Mérida’s cenotes. The
most famous cenotes in and close to Mérida are:
CHIUAN: In the town of Holcá, on the way to
you can cool off in the fresh waters of this cenote, which
is considered an oasis for all visitors. Once you are inside
the cavern it is easy to forget the heat outside.
NOC-AC: After a walk on a
rustic stone path to the cenote a mile away from town, the
breeze and peaceful clear waters are the best excuse to swim
and freshen up.
THE SACRED CENOTE AT
CHICHÉN-ITZÁ:This cenote is only 90 minutes away from
Mérida, close to
It is also known as “Cenote Sagrado” (Sacred Cenote) and is
one of the most important sinkholes, not only for its
natural beauty but also for its ancient Mayan history.
SAMBULÁ: Located on the
highway to Calcachén, this cenote is perfect for a cool dip
after visiting the mysterious cavern that surrounds it.
SANHKAR: Just outside the
community of Homun is the Sanhkar sinkhole, one of the
cenotes you must visit. To get to this extraordinary cenote
you must follow a trail that leads to a cavern with
incredible stalactite and stalagmite rock formations.
X'KEKEN: Also known as
“Dzitnup” in honor of the closest town near this sinkhole.
This cenote enchants its visitors with the natural light
that filters from the ground above it forming multicolor
reflections on the cave’s walls.
XLACAH: This cenote is
the home of the veleta fish, and its lush natural vegetation
is highlighted by the vestiges of the ancient civilizations.
This sinkhole is inside the archeological site of
only 22 kilometers from Mérida.
XTOLOC: Xtoloc is found
Its original Mayan trails, which were once used by the
ancient civilization to gather their fresh water supply, can
be followed to reach the cenote. You must visit this
archeological site and its amazing sinkhole. Just relax and
enjoy the scenery.
has one of the most important cenotes of the state. Its
deep, serene waters are excellent for diving. Occasionally
professional divers offer an exhibition for visitors to
enjoy. There are trails surrounding the sinkhole, an open
theater where plays and shows are presented and a small zoo.
There are several restaurants nearby where typical regional
dishes are served.
archeological site is located in the town of Acanceh, which
means “the agonizing deer” or “lament” or “moaning deer” in
Mayan. The two restored buildings, the Pyramid and the
Stucco Palace, are on the main square of the archeological
site. The buildings are dated in the early Classic period,
between the 5th and 6th centuries AD, although other
evidence has pointed out that habitation at this site came
later, when stones were carved in Puuc style. The ancient
city of Acanceh extended more than four square kilometers;
around 400 buildings have been registered as belonging to
AKÉ: In Mayan, Aké means
“place of reeds.” As an archeological site, Aké is known for
its sacbés (white roads), the characteristic megalithic-izamaleño
style architecture as well as Puuc style buildings, and its
sacred precincts. There are several cenotes and two water
sources that resolved water supply problems in ancient
times. Two concentric walls define the ancient settlement.
One circumscribes the central part where monumental
structures are found, while the other encloses the housing
area. The central section is a main square or plaza of
approximately 25,000 square meters surrounded by buildings.
Structure “ONE” or “The Pilastras” (square columns) is
located on the North side of the square. On the east and
west sides of the square are buildings made out of elongated
plant, and the south side holds many other buildings. In the
center of the plaza there is a stele of rock that was once
decorated with reed.
CHACMULTÚN: The name
means “Red Rock Hill” and is 126 kilometers south of Mérida
and only five minutes away from the town of Tekax. Most of
its buildings were built on foundations of about eight
meters high, which give them a powerful and superior
appearance. Chacmultún is an extremely interesting area,
very different from other pre-Hispanic Mayan cities for the
particular red tone of its buildings. This red tone is the
result of the microorganisms that live in this region and
whose particles, when in contact with water and air, give
the rock its special hue. The area was divided in three main
parts: Chacmultún, Kabalpak and Xetpol.
CHICHÉN-ITZÁ: On the
northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula, 120 kilometers from
Mérida is one of the most famous Mayan archeological sites:
was the most important regional capital of the civilization
from 750 through 1200 AD, period between the Classic and
Post-Classic Mesoamerican civilizations. Platforms, walls,
altars, friezes, steles, columns, lintels, masks and
sculptures are some of the incredible traces of the Mayan
civilization that can be appreciated in
Without a doubt, The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the
outstanding buildings at this site given its impressive
architecture, iconography and carvings.
DZIBILCHALTÚN: This 16
square kilometer ancient city is only ten minutes away from
Mérida. In Mayan,
means, “where scriptures are carved on flat rocks” and is
considered one of the oldest Mayan cities. This
archeological site is famous for the Temple of the Seven
Dolls where the spring and fall equinoxes can be observed.
Dates for these events are March 20, 21 and 22; April 20 and
September 20 and 21.
means “Black Jaguar” or “Star of the Tiger” and
distinguishes itself from other sites with its urban and
architectural characteristics, like the sacbé or “white
road” which gives it a touch of majesty and splendor. The
main square is surrounded by hills; the large platforms are
guarded by hundreds of trees, the majestic arched structures
and the ball game stadium have become one with the natural
KABÁH: "The hand that
chisels” or “the hand of Kabal" is a state park where one
can observe many structures of the Puuc Mayan splendor.
is on the lower part of a valley surrounded by medium sized
hills, most of which have small temples at the top of them
specifically positioned to observe the Nohpat and
the two main buildings of the city.
KUBULÁ: Only 37
kilometers east of Tizimín, on the highway to Colonia,
Yucatán, there is an exit that takes you to ranch Kulubá,
where the archeological site is located. Hidden amidst
abundant vegetation on the eastern side of the state, lay
the architectonic vestiges of this ancient city.
LABNÁ: Found in the uitze
or lomerío region.
or “old house” is remarkable for the arch that has been
described as one of the architectonic jewels of the classic
development of the Puuc.
MAYAPÁN: Kilometer 43,
southeast of Mérida. There is no doubt that Mayapán was the
most important place for the Mayan civilization during the
13th century. It was a gated city and had more than 4,000
buildings. As in most city-states, the buildings occupied by
the priests, merchants and wise men are located on the
central part of the city, around the Kukulkán Castle.
Mayapán means “pendant of the Maya” or “banner of the Maya.”
XKINTOK: When one
descends from the Calcehtok caverns, after five kilometers
into the jungle, one can see a group of pyramids and palaces
of the great
which means “three priests from the flint” (it can also mean
“three days of burning” or “many blood parties.”) This area
is famous for Satunsat, also known as “the labyrinth.” Its
grand and all encompassing atmosphere is particularly
reflected on the door dedicated to Xibalbá, the underworld.
Such a piece makes this experience very much worthwhile.
SAYIL: “Place of ants” in
saw its peak of splendor during the late Classic period,
between the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The delicate
bas-reliefs, the palaces on the north and south sides, and
the ball game stadium are proofs of the splendor of the
UXMAL: The Puuc is the
architectonic style that can be admired in
due to the construction of monumental buildings, walls and
vaulted chambers covered with carved stones, geometric
shapes, inserted columns, lattice work and Chaac masks.
The Puuc cities
The ancient Mayan city of
is located southeast of the Yucatán Peninsula, 78 kilometers
from Mérida. Its main buildings are the Quadrangle of the
Birds, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, The Governor’s Palace and
the Prophet’s House, the latter standing 35 meters tall and
overlooking the entire city.
XCAMBÓ: Located in the
municipality of Dzemul, Xcambó is a curious combination of
Mayan ruins, a Catholic chapel and a small fresh water
spring. Xcambó is located in the tropical forest area in
this marshland, just two kilometers from the coast. In Mayan
language Xcambó means “place of the virgin” or “place of the
waning moon.” Xcambó used to be a very important trading
port and salt supplier to the Mayans during the early
YAXUNÁ: Yaxuná or “the
turquoise house” is one of the cities that used to be
communicated to the city of
-100 kilometers away- through the sacbé, or white road.
MUSEUMS AND ART CENTERS:
MUSEO DE ANTROPOLOGÍA
E HISTORIA (MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY AND HISTORY): Located
on Paseo de Montejo, at the corner of 43rd Street, Downtown.
This building dates back to the beginning of last century,
its architecture French style. Originally owned by a family,
member of the henequén aristocracy, it currently houses the
Museum of Anthropology and History of
On display are Olmec, Zapotec, and Mayan figurines, as well
as axes made of obsidian, craniums, musical instruments,
coral and turquoise necklaces, gold ornaments, tombstones
and other objects that are representative of these ancient
UNIVERSIDAD AUTÓNOMA DE
YUCATÁN (AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF YUCATÁN): Located at
the corner of Streets 57 and 60. This building, that today
houses the University, was once the headquarters of the
Seminary College of San Pedro, founded in 1711, then closed
in 1748. In 1751, the building became the home of the San
Ildefonso Council Seminary, which disappeared in 1767
following the expulsion of the Jesuits as promulgated by
Carlos III. In 1824, the Literary University was founded in
the same building, where it remained until 1861. During the
empire of Maximilian, the building became the headquarters
for the Imperial Commissary. In 1922, the National
University of the Southeast was born, which later became the
University of Yucatán, in 1958. At present the central
offices of the Autonomous University of Yucatán, the Central
Library, sports court, video conference room, boardroom, and
the university’s radio station are all housed there.
ERMITA DE SANTA ISABEL (SANTA
ISABEL HERMITAGE): Located on the east side of Street 66
South. The hermitage takes its name from the mother of John
the Baptist, and was built by Gaspar González de Ledezma;
this gentleman was persuaded that the building of a church
would earn entrance to heaven more easily than piety or
devotion to a saint. Originally the church was known as the
Hermitage of Our Lady of Safe Travel, given that the
carriages that traveled along the royal highway of
stopped over briefly at the church to supplicate the Virgin
for safe travel and a happy end to an arduous trip. In
addition to the church itself, visitors can relax in the
beautiful botanic garden, complete with an artificial
TEATRO PEÓN CONTRERAS:
Located on 60th street between 57 and 57-A. The building is
a beautiful neo-classic, French style construction,
inaugurated in 1908. An impressive Carrara marble staircase
dominates the vestibule. The theater owes its name to
Yucatán poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, doctor and
politician José Peón Contreras (1843 - 1907), one of the
most renowned cultural figures ever in
Starting in 1912, the building was used as a cinema during
seasons of low live theater activity, and in 1940 was
renamed the Cinema Peón Contreras; it operated as such for
over 30 years, when it was ultimately closed down due to
deterioration. In 1981, following an arduous recovery task,
it was re-inaugurated as a theater. At present it is the
most important Cultural Center of the Institute of Culture
of Yucatán, with three temporary exhibit halls, restaurant,
bookstore and tourist information.
MUSEO DE ARTES POPULARES
(MUSEUM OF POPULAR ARTS): Located on 59th street. At
this place you can admire an exhibit on Mayan art and
customs, as well as a sampling of handicrafts representing
the entire state of
Also on the premises is a handicraft store where the visitor
can purchase the many and varied expressions of popular
Yucatán art and handicrafts.
PARQUE HIDALGO (CEPEDA PERAZA):
Located on Street 60. This is the second most important
public park in the city of Mérida. Construction began in
1871, and it was given the name Central Park. In 1877 the
name was changed to Parque Hidalgo, in homage to Don Miguel
Hidalgo. In 1896, the statue of General Cepeda Peraza was
unveiled in the park; he was a hero of the Reform. The park
is more commonly known under his name. This is the preferred
meeting point of students. Visitors to the park can also
enjoy dishes in the restaurants, or purchase different types
of handicrafts made on the spot by the artisans, including
necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, etc.
ATENEO DE YUCATÁN:
Streets 60, 61-A and 63, Downtown. The site was originally
the Episcopal Palace, but in 1915 Salvador Alvarado turned
it into an athenaeum. At present it houses the collections
of the City’s Contemporary Art Museum.
Mérida offers almost
daily free, open-air cultural and/or artistic performances.
On Mondays’ the Ballet
Folklórico performs, as well as a charanga jaranera
(typical music of the region), shouting out typical
phrases and jokes of the Yucatán people. This takes
place at the arches of the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) on
Calle 62, at 9 PM.
On Tuesdays, at the
Parroquia de Santiago on Street 72, there is popular
dance music playing.
On Wednesdays, troubadours
and orators perform at the Casa de la Cultura on Street
63, at 8 PM, in addition to the Ballet Folklórico.
Thursdays at 9 PM people
gather at the Santa Lucia Park, on Street 60, to listen
to the trios, soloists and orators.
At the University of Yucatán
on Calle 60, at the corner of 57, on Fridays there is a
special event: The University Serenade.
Sundays at the Main Square,
be sure to take in Mérida en Domingo (Mérida on Sunday),
with special marimba numbers, drama, and the Ballet
Folklórico del Ayuntamiento. This is an all-day event,
from 9 AM to 8 PM.
The official currency is the peso. There are many places in
the city where you can exchange money. Banks usually have
the best exchange rates and are open during the week from 9
AM to 3 or 5 PM. Exchange houses have lower exchange rates,
but have better service hours. Hotels can also exchange
money, but their exchange rates are generally not good.
All stores sell bottled water.
Also safe to drink is the water in the large glass bottles
found in offices and public places. It is recommended that
you not drink tap water, it is not considered potable.
Minus six hours from Greenwich
(GMT). Mérida is in the same time zone as México City,
central time. Throughout the entire country the daylight
savings program is implemented; in summer from April through
October, and in winter from November through March.
To visit the archeological sites and
colonial cities, it is recommended to wear lightweight
clothing and very comfortable all terrain shoes. To visit
restaurants, museums and theaters casual clothing is
suggested. If you are visiting during wintertime, you might
want to carry a sweater or sports jacket.
110 volts for two-phased flat plugs. In
hotels and some newer establishments three-phase electrical
outlets are available.
average temperature in Mérida is 28º C. During the summer
when days are hot and sunny the temperature may rise to
about 37º C. From October to February the weather cools down
to approximately 21º C.
open Monday through Friday between 8 and 9 AM and close
between 4 and 5 PM. Some banks open on Saturday from 10 AM
to 2 PM.
The area code for
Mérida is 999; then dial the seven-digit phone number (that
must begin with 9). If you dial from another state within
the country, you must dial 01 before dialing the area code
and the phone number. If you dial from abroad, you must dial
00 52 before dialing the area code and the phone number.
There are no required vaccinations
to visit Mérida.
buses and taxis are very common in Mérida. If you choose to
ride in a taxi, we recommend reaching an agreement before
getting in the taxi. Your hotel will help you if you need
Another form of transportation in
Mérida is the calesa (carriage). To ride a carriage you must
go to street 61, between 58 and 60, by the Cathedral. At
night, there are many calesas around the Main Square or
Plaza on 60th street on Paseo de Montejo. They all follow
the same route, from the Main Square to the Monumento a la
Patria and back (or somewhere along the avenue). All
carriages run from 8 AM to 12 AM.
For those who want to do something different
we suggest that you take the train to
on a Sunday. The Izamal railway wagon can transport up to 68
passengers and leaves the Central Train Station every
Sunday. To distinguish it from other trains, the Izamal
train is number 6033. For the traveler’s comfort, the train
is equipped with air conditioning and restrooms.
In Mérida there are many handicraft
and souvenir open-air markets. A very famous open-air market
sets up every Sunday in front of the Town Hall. Here you
will find all sorts of handicrafts such as sculptures,
leather products, ornaments made out of seashells, pottery
and traditional sweets. In addition to these markets, there
are commercial establishments where you can find other
handicrafts including henequén products, hammocks,
guayaberas (Panama type shirts), huipiles (long embroidered
malls are open from 11 AM to 8 PM
Department type stores
are open from 9 AM to 9 PM and downtown commercial
establishments are open from 10 AM to 7 PM.
stores and small convenience stores are open 24 hours.
Progreso is a port very close to Mérida; from Progreso you
can take a boat to the Alacranes reef and dive into crystal
clear ocean water, where impressive underwater scenery
Surfing: The port of Progreso offers long
beaches running along either side of the port-city, an ideal
spot for surfing.
Water Sports: Just a few kilometers
from Mérida lays the port of Progreso, at present an
important destination for those who enjoy water sports such
as skiing, jet skiing, and water bikes and motorcycles.
Extreme Sports: Visit the archeological zone of
located 22 kilometers from Mérida; here you will find the
huge cenote (sinkhole) called Xlacá. Only experienced divers
should attempt exploring the deep waters of this magical
Fishing: Fishing lovers should visit the old port
of Progreso, located just five kilometers from Mérida, or
visit the small fishing community of
reservations, availability and bookings, please contact us