Merida was founded in 1542 but went through a big building phase in the early 19th century as it started to get rich from the henequén (rope made from agave) industry and trading with the rest of the Americas.
Serenata at Santa Lucia Park
Every Thursday, since 1965, Santa Lucia square has hosted a show of Yucatecan music and dance at 9pm. You don’t want to miss the fabulous show to learn a bit about the rich history and culture of the Mexican Yucatán. But get there early! At least an hour beforehand if you want a seat.
Fundación de Artistas
Just a few blocks from Santa Lucia square is an old mansion that has been transformed into a house to exhibit local artists. The courtyard is a lovely escape from the city and there was a soothing classical pianist the afternoon we went by. The exhibit is totally free, so I highly suggest you pop in for a bit!
Read more: Travel Style: Yucatan, Mexico
Sunday is the best day to see the city with tons people milling about the market in the plazas, coming and going from the numerous churches, and enjoying the culinary delights of the many restaurants and food stalls. From 10am-3pm there are is an open-air market in the main plaza where I bought a gorgeous Mayan-style dress from one of the stalls.
Paseo de Montejo
This avenue was constructed in 1888 and has some gorgeous, albeit a little run down, mansions in the Beaux-Arts style. It’s great for a leisurely stroll with lots of tree shade; because we had my aba with us we drove down the avenue instead. On Sundays the street is also closed for bikes from 8am-12:30pm. Honesty, the city is filled with these old gorgeous buildings so you can’t miss them!
As a church aficionado, I ALWAYS pop into the cathedral of any given city. The cathedral is usually the biggest and most decorated, although the Cathedral of St. Ildefonso is (in my opinion) not the most beautiful in the city. However, it’s a great place to watch the faithful during a mass or in the in between times of the day.
Read more: Travel Tips: Visiting Catholic Churches
Church of the Third Order
My art history teacher once said if a church looks unimpressive for the outside it means they spent all the money on the inside so go in! And that is certainly what happened here. This church has the honor of being the “most beautiful church in Merida.” Not my words but I totally agree! And, although it is not over the top, the church is indeed gorgeous. It’s not always open, but if you see the front door open, take your chance to slip inside.
Although super tiny (but FREE!) this house of the founder of Merida is worth a look. Right on the main plaza with some gorgeous period-decorated rooms. It’s an interesting look back into history.