You are planning a trip to Merida for the first time and wondering what are the most interesting things to visit? Here are my suggestions if you’re planning to stay few days in Merida.
Plaza Grande is the heart of Merida. Full of beautiful trees and the colorful sign with the city’s name for photos, the plaza looks more like a park. The square is lined with colonial buildings with high archways. Among them, you will find the Palacio del Gobierno and the Palacio Municipal which you can visit for free. Both buildings are very interesting as you can roam their hallways and rooms as you please. The Palacio del Gobierno (Government Palace) was built in the late 1800s and you can find inside some impressive murals. On the west side of Plaza Grande stands the Palacio Municipal which, thanks to its pink facade, high archways, and a small clock tower is one of the most photogenic buildings in the historic center. It is possible to go inside the palace for free and take a photo of the square from the balcony.
If you are looking for some cultural experience, the chances are that during your visit there will be a concert or a dancing show. Most of the shows take place on weekends and attract the local crowd. Every Sunday Merida’s Plaza Grande hosts a large craft fair.
The Merida’s Cathedral called Catedral de San Ildefonso standing on Plaza Grande cannot be overlooked. On the site of a former Maya temple its construction began in 1561 and was completed in 1598. Some of the stone from the Maya temple was used in its construction. The massive crucifix behind the altar is Cristo de la Unidad (Christ of Unity), a symbol of reconciliation between the Spanish and the Maya heritage. This is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas.
Parque Santa Lucia
The Parque Santa Lucia ( Santa Lucia Park) is, beside Plaza Grande, the most interesting park of the city. It boasts a magnificient architecture with archways and is also full of beautiful trees. All around the square are the most interesting restaurants of the city including Apoala, La Recova, La Tratto and 32 Sur. Open from 2:30 pm until late at night, this is the place to eat great food or drink a traditional mayan chocolate drink at Ki’Xocolatl . The park is located 2 minutes walking from Casa Santa Lucia, or 7 minutes from Casa Anais.
Every thursday night around 8:30pm the park is used for a traditional open air music concert, so make sure to make advanced reservation in one of the restaurant if you want to have access to it while dining.
Also if you are in Merida on Sunday, don’t miss the traditional dancing that take place in the park at around 2pm. It attracks a large local crowd and is fun to watch.
Paseo de Montejo
Paseo de Montejo, located around 10 minutes walking from both Casa Anais ans Santa Lucia toward the north, is Merida’s most beautiful street. With its wide sidewalks and large trees it was an attempt by Mérida’s 19th-century city planners to create a wide boulevard similar to the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City or the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
There are beautiful mansions along the boulevard, and while many of them are now the headquarters of national and international banks and companies, they still retain the heritage of the city. One of the mansions, the old Palacio Cantón, is now the city’s Anthropology and History Museum — a good place to look around for a better understanding of Merida’s roots.
The most famous (and photographed) houses in Merida are the Casas Gemelas or ‘twin houses,’ built as exact copies of French buildings in the 20th century. They’re still privately owned today and are the greatest example of Merida’s wealthy history.
But not everything is just for looking — there’s also plenty to eat! The avenue has many excellent coffee shops and restaurants, among them Heladeria El Colón, famous for its ice cream or the Henessy Irish pub which offer a great menu and a place to rest and escape the heat of the day.
El Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya
Located on Calle 60 on the very northern part of the city, this cultural space is housed in an impressive architectural structure inspired by the ceiba tree. The museum, dedicated to the most important cultural influence of the Mayan culture, houses around 1000 important archaeological pieces. Visiting the museum, you will learn a lot about the traditions, rites and customs of the Mayan culture.
Here is the link if you want to plan your visit: https://www.granmuseodelmundomaya.com.mx/
Lucas Galvez Market
Merida’s main market, Lucas de Galvez covers 156,000 square feet and has over 2000 vendors that sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seasonings, pots, baskets, animals, shoes, clothes…the list goes on and on. Roughly 100,000 visitors flock to the colorful stalls on a daily basis.
It’s a great market to explore on your own, but if you’re curious about some of the unusual fruits, vegetables, herbs, ingredients and prepared foods you’ll likely find here, and may not be familiar with, sign up for a market (and cooking) tour. It is fun to walk the different food halls with a local-in-the-know.
–everyday from 8am-6pm