In the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the charming city of Merida is giving us a taste of the old world. It is filled with regal Spanish colonial structures dating back between the 1600’s and 1700’s, so well-preserved you can actually feel like you stepped out of a time machine. Aside from admiring these buildings, Merida is bursting with fabulous things to do, whether they be accounting to the past or to the present.
If you are into traveling to the past, you will surely enjoy touring one or more of these historic spots.
Ake – a pre-Columbian Maya “palace” with rows of stone column topping a step-up pyramid platform.
Acanceh – buildings dating back from 200 to 300 A.D.; means “dying deer” in Mayan.
Cathedral de San Ildefonso – built in 1958; oldest east side Catholic cathedral in America.
Chichen Itza – a World Heritage pre-Columbian site; one of the most visited
Dzibilchaltun – a Maya ruin that has been constantly occupied for thousands of years.
Palacio Canton (Canton Palace) – was the home of General Francisco Canton Rosado; built in the regime of Porfirio Diaz.
Cenote – fresh-water filled limestone sinkhole formed in during the Pleistocene Epoch.
Uxmal – a large ruined city of the Maya civilization; literally means “built three times” in Mayan.
Casa Montejo – a 1549 mansion.
However, if you want to spotlight all regional history in one setting, you can always go to a museum. The enormous white mansion of the Regional Museum of Anthropology is open to public viewing and is highly recommended.
If you are bringing the whole family, visit the Centenario Zoo. It was built in the Porfiriato Era and has a gigantic sand playground.
But if you ever get tired of visiting the past, an assortment of new things to do is widely available. A bit of sounds and music is always good to either perk you up or soothe you down. We suggest taking a tour at the city’s parks and plazas. They hold cultural shows every night including serenades and regional dances.
Try out the Merida cuisine and you will never regret it. It bursts with the combination of Mexican, Mayan, and European flavors. There are several highly commendable restaurants to check out and many dishes you just got to have a taste with. Some of these dishes include: poc chuc (grilled pork with chopped onion and tomato sauce), lime soup, relleno negro (turkey in hot and spicy black sauce), and the very popular cochinita pibil (pork marinated in achiote/annato).
But if you want to mix good food and shopping, go straight to the city markets. One terrific market is the Merida en Domingo where they present fantastic arrays of handcrafts as well as food festivals.
Need some time to relax? Take a walk at the beautiful tree-lined street of the El Paseo Montejo where you can enjoy viewing the lined mansions built by henequen-industry barons (including Palacio Canton). You can also opt for the English Library where they feature walking tours of gardens and homes.
If you want to set one foot in the past and the other in the present, Merida is one perfect place for you.