Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Merida is a great city to combine with beach time in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya

Mayan Explore truly recommends a visit to Merida during your vacations in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. If you are into Mexico and Mayan-related vacations, Merida is definitely a must while you are visiting this amazing country. Merida is the capital and the largest city of the State of Yucatan and the Yucatan Peninsula. With about 828,000 people (2010 census), Merida is a wonderful mixture of colonial city and cosmopolitan destination.

Typical colonial building in Merida
It was founded in 1542 on the site of a large Mayan city known as T'ho in the Mayan language. T'ho means "five hills", referring to the five pyramids that Spaniards dismantled to build the new city.

Merida's historical center, known as one of the largest in the Americas, is said to be built out of sacred stones of those pyramids. Merida City and the state of Yucatan have always been geographically isolated from the rest of Mexico, which helped to better preserve its unique Mayan culture. In the city streets you can see women wearing brightly colored, embroidered traditional huipil blouses and men wearing the Caribbean guayabera shirt. There exist many hotels in Merida, but for your convinience head to those near the main square.

Merida's Cathedral
Locals call their beloved city "The White Merida". During the day, the white facades of its colonial buildings glow under the tropical sun, making this nickname well deserved. With a climate resembling that of Florida, and a peaceful population that respect their roots and traditions, Merida has become a favorite place to relocate or to spend some vacations.

The history of Merida has been influenced by the henequen plant, which became known as 'green gold'. Thanks to the henequen trade in the early 20th century, Merida became home to numerous millionaires, who built their impressive haciendas on the street called Paseo Montejo. Locals even call it "The Champs Elysees" of Merida and acknowledge it as one of the main attractions of this beautiful city. You will also see many famous haciendas in Merida and you should visit a few of them.

Entrance of one the beautiful haciendas in merida
Merida is a perfect destination not only to stay in the city, but also as a jumping off point for day trips to the nearby Mayan ruins of the Mayan World (Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Labna which are better known as the ´The Puuc Route´) as well as for vacations in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya

The well preserved Mayan language and traditions, the fascinating architecture, history, food and friendly smiling people, make Merida one of Mexico's most appealing cities to visit.

Our top 5 things to do in Merida:

1. The most important thing to do in Merida is to go and see the Palacio Municipal. In the evenings and on Sundays you can see dances and concerts.

2. Visit Casa de Montejo, which is located on the south side of the main plaza. It was built between 1543 and 1549 as the palace of the first Spanish governors. It is now a bank and you can see the original portico of the Montejo Family coat of arms.

Typical house on Paseo Montejo
3. The 19th century Palacio de Gobierno, next to the cathedral, houses the Yucatan State authorities. It is remarkable for the numerous large murals adorning its courtyard, stairs and a first floor lobby.

4. Just off calle 60, one of the city´s major roads, is Parque Cepeda Peraza, a small bustling square. Visitors can watch the many musicians and street merchants or relax in one of the open air cafes.

5. Merida prides itself on being the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Teatro Jose Peon Contreras is one of the main showcases. Built at the turn of the 20th Century with money from the sisal trade, it is a extravagant Neo-Classical creation in peach and white, with elaborate chandeliers and a massive foyer.

You will enjoy your vacations in Merida, especially if you combine it with some beach time in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. Check out all the information you need on our website and get started organizing one of the best holidays of your life!