Mérida - Capital Of Yucatan
Mérida is the capital of Yucatan and because of that brings probably the most cultural and authentic experiences of all the cities in Yucatan.
There are many restaurants from many different countries like Argentina, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Japan, China and as a visitor you need to try the Mexican and Yucatecan kitchen. The Yucatan kitchen is considered a little bit heavier than the Mexican kitchen and that's why yucatecan food normally is served at lunch time.
Things to see in Mérida are:
- The cathedral which is in the zocalo or plaza grande (central market square) and is the oldest of the Americas. It has a big wooden cross inside.
- Palaccio del Gobierno where you can see murals and paintings which tell the history of Yucatan, which was sometimes pretty bloody.
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- The old market where local products, like spices, herbs, vegetables, meat, fish are sold.
- The Paseo the Montejo, a big avenue constructed as a copy of the Champ Elysee in Paris, in the time that Mérida was one of the most rich cities in the world.
- The museum of Anthropology.
- Macay museum with contemporary art.
Things to do in Mérida:
- There are 2 sight seeing buses driving in town and one them is double decker bus (yes the famous red one).
- Shopping: Mérida is a good place to buy hamacas, guayaberas, panama hats, Xtabentum (very nice local liquer) and all other kind of products and souvernirs.
- Visit some of the luxurious malls in the north of the city, Plaza las Gallerias has for example an ice skating track inside. The cinemas are excellent and many movies have English audio and have Spanish subtitles. Great to learn spanish!
- Follow a Spanish course. Mérida has excellent Spanish schools also for foreigners. Some combine studying with day trips to learn also something about the Yucatecan and Mexican culture.
- Follow cooking lessons.
- Aqua park.
- Carriage ride throught the city.
These events take place all weeks and they are for free:
- Monday evening traditional dancing in the plaza grande
- Tuesday night big band performance in Santiago Park where many people are dancing
- Thursday night - Trova (traditional music from here) performance in Santa Lucia Park
- Saturday nigh - Fiesta Mexicana in the beginning of Paseo de Montejo
- Sunday - Sunday morning in Mérida, a lot of people are selling things in the Plaza Grande, there will be some performances, you can make a bicycle tour through the center and the big avenue Paseo de Montejo. A lot of people will be there
There are yearly events which can be fun to visit when they are happening when you are there like the fair of Izmaquil or Dzitya. Izmaquil has million of visitors every years (Dzitya fair is much smaller but nice to visit, especially if you are interested in Mexican people and lifestyle).
Many time s there are some interesting things to see in the exhibition space of the Olympo at the Zocalo. In 2010 arrived an exhibition of Picasso and later Goya and in beginning of 2011 of Tamayo. All where for free.
Mérida is an excellent base for day trips in the surrounding:
- Dzibizaltum, the temple of the seven puppets has also a cenote where you can swim
- 3 cenote tour in Cuzama - very beautiful cenotes on a old hacienda terrain. You will arrive at them with a horse truck
- Uxmal, by far not as many visitors as Chitzen Itza because it is to far away for the people in Cancun and Playa. Most people who visit it find it much more nice than Chitzen Itza though. In the evening there is a light and sound show.
- Chitzen Itza is now the eight world wonder and indeed it is impressing. There are many sellers and tourists there. Luckily the site is big and can absorb many people... In the evening there is a light and sound show.
- Izamal, a big monestary was build with the stones of the Mayan pyramids (like in many other places pyramid stones where used to build churches, monasteries, houses etc). Pope Johannes second visited it.
- Celestun, you need to take a boot tour to see the flamingos. There is a nice beach and fresh seafood and cerveza is served there.
- Grotas de Loltun where they find mayan artifacts.
- Many smaller mayan sites like Sayil, Xlapak, Labna, Kabah, Xtampu.
- See bats leave from Grotas de Calcethok at sunset.
- Acanceh, where you see pyramid next to church in town center.
- hacienda's like Yaxcopoil, Ochil, Temozon, Misne etc. They bring a lot of history and a very peaceful and quiet experience. Some are now hotels of highest category or restaurant or museum.
- visit Progresso beach, the beach town of Merida.
Mérida has many hotels big hotels from international chains but also many local budget hotels and many bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. Quality and prices vary a lot.
For sure I forget to mention many things, many events, musea (Merida has more than 30) but i think i made my point. You can not see you know Yucatan without visiting Mérida!
In case you need to have some info about Mérida, feel free to ask.
Saludos y hasta la vista en Mérida!
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