Merida, Yucatan

Merida is a charming and romantic city, well deserving a visit, and optimal starting point to discover surrounding natural and historical attractions.

Merida, capital city of the state of Yucatan, is located in the north part of the peninsula of the same name. It is situated 320 km northwest of Cancun and 120 km of Chichen Itza. 36 km north of Merida is Puerto Progreso. Puerto Telchac is 62 km in the same direction. To the northeast are Celestun, Sisal, and Hunucma. And to the south and southeast are sites like Uman at 18 km and Ticul at 84 km.

Merida International Airport, Manuel Crescencio, is located about 14 km or 8 miles southeast from Downtown.

Conquered by Francisco de Montejo in 1542, T´ho, the ancient Maya city, was the location for the foundation of Merida.

Preceding the foundation, there were two unsuccessful attempts to conquer Yucatan Peninsula by Francisco de Montejo. The first one in1526, which started promising the victory of the battle at Chauca, and ended up in a disaster. Montejo had to retreat with his army under steady harassment of local leaders.

In 1531, Francisco de Montejo send his son, which invaded Yucatan until Chichen Itza, and declared this place as Royal Capital of Spanish Yucatan. Locals rose up against him, and after constantly being attacked, the Spanish army fled to Honduras, leaving Yucatan under complete Maya control.

Francisco de Montejo, the older, finally invaded Yucatan in 1540 with a large force, and settled its capital in the Maya city of T’ho, which was renamed Merida.

The oldest building in town is the home of Franciso de Montejo, Casa de Montejo, built in 1542. His home and the oldest cathedral on the American Continent (1556) are built at the central square, Plaza de la Independencia, also called the Zocalo.

At the Zocalo you will see also the amazing Palace of the Governor, with huge mural paintings, colorfully illustrating the history of Yucatan.

Leaving the central square, lined along the avenues, you can see numerous beautifully maintained colonial mansions, which were home of rich families during the glorious days of hemp industry. Some are still used as houses but must of them are now bases for businesses and shops offering all kind of merchandises.

The many beautifully landscaped parks and green squares are one of Merida´s most charming features. Like the central square, Parque Hidalgo. Just down the block to the north there is another perfect place to take a break in an outdoor cafe whose tables spread out into the park.

Almost every afternoon or evening and, specially Sunday, the parks is filled with activities and you can enjoy regional music and dance shows for free.