A guide to Merida: Ten reasons to visit NOW
The Mexican city of Merida has been named the American Capital of Culture twice. For travelers looking to explore beyond Mexico’s world-class beaches, here are ten reasons to put the “White City” on your travel list.
With nonstop international flights from Miami, Houston and Atlanta, Merida’s proximity and cultural wealth make it an ideal destination to tack onto a beach vacation. Centrally located within the Yucatan Peninsula near the Gulf of Mexico, Merida serves as a convenient base for day trips to archaeological sites, nature preserves and treasure villages.
Merida’s culture is a blend of traditions inherited from the ancient Maya civilization and customs brought by Spanish conquistadors. The city of Merida itself was founded on top of an ancient Maya city. After 500 years, a comingling of rituals and beliefs create a vibrant cultural identity that continues to shape this dynamic city.
Travelers come to experience the Yucatan’s well-preserved Maya archaeological sites. Seventy-five miles east of Merida lies Chichen Itza, one of Mexico’s most impressive and visited ruins due to its designation as a new wonder of the world. Uxmal, another UNESCO-listed Maya ruin located an hour south of Merida, is celebrated for its precise construction and ornate stone carvings.
Local markets are bursting with exotic fruits and vegetables. Taste local produce like habanero peppers, chaya (a local green similar to spinach), Seville oranges and huaya (a lime exclusive to the Yucatan region. Merida’s restaurants are beaming with eclectic tastes and there is something for everyone.
Like most colonial cities, Merida features broad central plazas and beautiful cathedrals. Narrow streets are safe and squeaky clean with picturesque pink, green and peach facades. One of the oldest churches in Latin Amerida, San Ildefonso Cathedral is here.
Museums and Art
Museums provide a window into Merida’s storied past and spotlight the rich artistic epicenter it is today. Merida has many museums and art galleries that allow you to take a peek not only into the city’s past but its present and future as well.
Rosas and Xocolate is not the only charming boutique hotel in town but it is certainly one of the best. Housed in two cheerfully pink colonial mansions on Paseo Montejo, the 17-room design focused hotel is bursting with vivid color and Mexican cool style.
From the late 1800s to the 1920s the Yucatan experienced a boom of prosperity as the leading provider of sisal used to make ropes, amassing a level of wealth that transformed modest manors into extravagant haciendas.
When a deadly asteroid slammed into the sea floor off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, it also created more than 6,000 fresh water sinkholes and caves called cenotes. For centuries, the crystal-clear groundwater pools were used as sacred wells by the Maya where they performed offerings and spiritual rituals to communicate with the gods. Wear your bathing suit to take a dip in the cleansing waters when you visit.
Mexico is known for its warm hospitality and faultless service and then locals in Merida are as friendly and helpful as they come. Count on them to help you navigate around town and to find the best places to visit while you are here.
Come explore Merida and see what awaits you!