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Merida – modern and cultural city in Yucatan state

Merida is the capital and largest city in Yucatan state and the cultural and financial capital of the region. It’s a modern, cosmopolitan city with museums, art galleries, restaurants, shops and boutiques. A major center of commerce, Merida Yucatan is considered the crossroads of the region and one of the most important places to experience the Mayan heritage.


Merida has been nicknamed “The White City” (“La Ciudad Blanca”), though the exact origin of this moniker is not clear. Some explanations include the common color of its old buildings painted and decorated with “cal” (though anyone visiting modern Mérida can see that buildings are not all white nowadays) or the fact that the residents keep the city particularly clean. Merida was named after the Spanish town of the same name, originally (in Latin) Augusta Emerita (see Mérida, Spain). Mérida served as the American Capital of Culture in the year 2000.

The Cathedral de San Ildefonso

The Cathedral de San Ildefonso (San Ildefonso Cathedral) is the oldest cathedral on the continent and one of the top Merida attractions. It was built between 1561 and 1598 using stones from ruined Mayan pyramids and temples. The interior is sparsely decorated and a crucifix behind the main altar symbolizes the reconciliation of the Spanish and Mayan heritage of the city. Housed in a chapel off to the left, you’ll find the most important religious artifact in Merida, the Cristo de las Ampollas (Christ of the Blisters).

City Hall

Another of the important things to do in Merida is to tour the interior of the Palacio Municipal (City Hall). The interior of the City Hall building is decorated with murals by Yucatecan artist Fernando Castro Pacheco. The murals depict scenes from Merida’s history. The adjoining building houses a cultural center and frequently hosts performances and exhibitions.

Merida's Carnaval

Having a long tradition, the Merida carnival takes place within a family environment. Over the course of eight days, several cultural and entertainment activities take place, such as the coronation of the king and queen and the burning of the bad mood. The latter event is held in the city’s main square; it begins by reading aloud the conviction of the bad mood, setting fire to a figure representing it, followed by a colorful fireworks display.

Finally, explore more of the Yucatan region when you travel to Merida, Mexico with visits to nearby towns, Mayan ruins and cenotes (underwater sinkholes).

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