Mexico / Destinations / Merida

Merida

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  • — Celestun, near Merida
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  • — Celestun, near Merida
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  • — Merida
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The capital of Yucatan State, and the cultural heart of the broader Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is a charming, easy-going city as well as a great base for exploring numerous, varied, nearby attractions.

Merida’s colonial history dates back to its founding by Francisco de Montejo y León in 1542, although, as with elsewhere in the region, the city was actually built on top of the ancient Maya city of T’ho whose stones were recycled as building material for the new city.

Although Merida continues to grow, the original, colonial centre is relatively compact and can easily be explored on foot although taxis are cheap, safe and plentiful.

The centre of Merida is typically defined as being the Zocalo, or central square, around which are a number of venerable, colonial buildings as well as San Ildefonso Cathedral, one of the oldest in Mexico. In addition to the vast, central square, there are a number of nearby, shady, much smaller squares which are great places to sit and watch the world go by.

Also close to the main square, and one of the city’s main draws, is the impressive Paseo Montejo, a grand, triumphalist, tree-lined boulevard, occupied on either side by opulent mansions that draw their inspiration from the Belle Epoque.

Merida is also home to a variety of colonial museums and contemporary galleries although none are more impressive than the new, must-visit Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.

Aside from the numerous attractions within the city itself, Merida also acts as a great base. To the south are a number of superb, colonial-era haciendas and convents as well as a cluster of Mayan sites around the Puuc Hills, the most famous of which is Uxmal.

To the west of the city, along the far less developed Gulf coast, you’ll find abundant natural beauty and wildlife within the mangroves surrounding Celestun.

Accommodation in Merida

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