Merida is a flat city in a plain state, on the almost totally flat peninsula of the Yucatan.
Here in these southeastern Mexican lands, there are no geographical features that allow you to climb a hill or mountain where you can find a viewpoint to observe the city, but there are buildings in the centre that can be used with this purpose.
Many of them are located on the renowned, prestigious, and elegant Paseo de Montejo, the city´s main avenue. You can explore the luxury architecture and enjoy some great views.The one that we recommend is the restaurant Deck with an unbeatable view over the Home-land Monument or Flag Monument. Its terrace opens at 18 h, closing at 02 h, so you´ll have enough time to enjoy it.
The menu doesn´t have many dishes but they are of high quality and not overpriced: meats, burgers, salads...It also has a wide variety of beers and signature cocktails, including mojitos, prepared with a bit of spicy habanero chilli that makes it especial. So, if you don´t want to have dinner, you can enjoy just one of these drinks, since it has a bar where they prepare ex-cellent options, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The music is house style. Remember that we recommend this place especially for the views, as there are few places in the city like this. Once there you can decide whether you prefer to dine or just have a drink at the bar.
In addition to the views, the space and its lounge music can create a very romantic atmos-phere that you can enjoy with your partner.
To access the terrace, go up the staircase from Paseo de Montejo.
Be careful going down if you had too many drinks, do it calmly!
Address: Paseo Montejo 490.
Telephone: 999 926 6587 and 999 926 0304.
Merida is the capital of Yucatan Peninsula, and has some delicious food you should try in the state´s largest city. From the famous panuchos to cochinita pibil, from relleno negro to papak-tsul, very local dishes from this region of Mexico that will make you feel delighted. But today we want to talk to you about a very simple delicious one, that will awaken your taste buds and invigorate you after a day of walking and sightseeing. We are talking about the delicious lime soup, very local with a delicious taste.
Lime soup combines the spicy flavours typical of Mexico with very local spices. It is also a simple, easy to prepare and cheap option. Many people think that the main ingredient is the Yucatecan lime, a very local perfumed citrus fruit that is not like the green lime we know and here, is commonly called lemon.
Lime soup is more like a chicken broth seasoned with lime, spices and chilli. Despite being spicy, it can be consumed perfectly on hot days, as it is very restorative, nutritious and diges-tive as well as light.
To prepare soup for three people you will need the following ingredients:
60 grams of jitomato (as they call tomato in Mexico), 60 grams of onion, 1 clove of garlic, a quarter teaspoon of pepper and a teaspoon of oregano, half a cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, a few cloves, half habanero pepper (very hot!), half a yucateca lime (remember that these are the limes of the Yucatan, which, unlike the common lime they call lemon in Mexico, is much more fragrant and full of tonic) cut into 4 pieces, 325 grams of cooked and shredded chicken breast and 1 litre of chicken stock (you can use the one you cooked the chicken breast in).
It is very easy to prepare, and the whole process will only take you an hour. Use the typical Mexican comal or a frying pan where you will roast tomato, onion and garlic over low heat. Brown them and separate them.
Toast the spices, oregano, cloves, anise, pepper and cinnamon in another pan or in the same pan one, until they release their aroma.
In a large saucepan, place all the browned and toasted ingredients together with the chilli and chicken stock and half a teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally for 20 minutes.
Then strain all the large ingredients through a fine-mesh strainer. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste.
It is traditionally served with fried corn tortilla strips adding slices of fresh lime and diced fresh tomato and avocado.
Address: this is a very typical and simple dish in Merida and throughout Yucatan that you can find in many restaurants, local eateries, zocalo or central square, in any neigbourhood.
THE ART OF DOING NOTHING
In Mérida and throughout Yucatan there are many items that you can buy as souvenirs, but there is one that is especially local and very Mexican, and that is the hammock.
Although there is evidence in drawings that it was known in Europe before the discovery of America, it was on this continent where it was most widely distributed. Its name comes from the Taino language and means fish net. The hammock is an excellent means of resting, re-quiring few materials except for the woven net and two mooring points, which are usually hooks attached to the wall. The fact that it is off the ground also prevents the approach of crawling insects.
The hammock is all around the Caribbean world and is traditionally made of cotton, sisal, pita or cabuya, although recently synthetic materials such as polyester and polypropylene have been used.
We advise you to buy one with natural materials because, apart from being more pleasant to the touch, they are more environmentally friendly and help traditional agriculture. They are coloured with natural dyes or aniline to give them different tones and produce different designs. The fact that a hammock has more pairs of threads in its production makes it wider and consequently more spacious and pleasant to sleep in.
Hammocks are created on loom frames woven with warp and weft.
They can be found in practically every house in Yucatan and throughout the Caribeean, and it is said that they arrived in this state long before the arrival of the Spaniards. Today it is used throughout the Americas and in some places, it is called a columpio or chinchorro.
They have been exported all over the world since the XVI century, and today are also com-mon in Southeast Asia and in any country where it is hot most of the year.
As a curious fact, they were widely used by European sailors since the XVII century as they were very comfortable and almost impossible to fall out of even if the sea conditions were bad.
It is not very expensive and does not take up much space. It is not very heavy, it is easy to transport and because of its flexibility, fits into almost any space. When you return home, especially if you have a garden or if you usually go to the countryside on a hot day, you will be glad you brought it with you from its place of origin, and you will also surprise your friends and family, especially the children, who will fight to get on it, swing and never get off again.
Address: in Mérida you can find them everywhere, in fact you won´t even have to look for them in shops, because you will see an infinite number of street vendors who will make you different offers. You can also find them at the handicrafts market on 67th Avenue and 56th Street.
NOT ONLY A MEMORY IN THE RETINA
Of course, this is a monument where you will take an unforgettable picture of the White City.
This site was conceived and created by Rómulo Rozo, a Colombian sculptor who settled in Yucatán.
It is the first of its kind erected to the nationality in Mexico and in the American continent. Its construction began in 1945 and was completed in 1956. In addition to Rozo, the architects Manuel and Max Amábilis and the master builder Víctor Nazario Ojeda also participated.
Some people say that this work originated in a competition organised by the UADY (Univer-sity of Yucatan) to build a monument dedicated to the flag. Once Ruzo led the project, it would evolve into what we can see today and with which we can take that marvellous photo-graph.
This monument can be classified as neo-Indigenous or neo-Maya architecture (as part of the nationalist movement). It consists of a semicircle accessible by two ramps and stairs. It also has a fountain, and the total diameter is 40 metres. In the lower side of the inner concave part which faces north, there is a water mirror that reproduces the lake of Texcoco and there is a representation of the eagle of the Mexican coat of arms fighting with the serpent on the cac-tus of the nopal cactus. This refers to the foundation of Tenochtitlán, the origin of Mexican culture. Around the fountain, there are the 31 coats of arms of the states that make up the Mexican Republic, including the Federal District.
On the upper walls of the monument, we can distinguish the bodies and faces of many im-portant historical, political, literary or artistic figures of Mexico and America. If we look to the front from right to left, we can distinguish first all the main characters of the colonization. The central part is dedicated to a female figure dressed in pre-Hispanic Mayan-type clothing. Inside there is a lamp that burns permanently. If we look to the left, we can see characters from the Reformation and the Mexican Revolution, as well as figures from contemporary Mexico.
A walk around this monument will not only allow you to get to know a good part of Mexican history as well as to contemplate the faces of so many characters that influenced it. We can look for the best place, depending on the moment of the day and the position of the sun to take unforgettable snapshots that will remind us of our trip through this wonderful city, capi-tal of Yucatan.
Address: Homeland Monument is on Paseo de Montejo at the intersection with Romulo Rezo Avenue and 58A Street.
This church in Merida is very special because it was built to ask the patron saint for protection against the plagues of locusts that devastated the population from 1552 to 1666.
The temple of San Juan de Dios is located south of the Historic Centre in the neighbourhood of the same name, and was a hermitage before becoming a chapel.
It seems that the locusts, those insects of insatiable appetite, devastated the crops on three occasions in a bit more than a century, which led to the construction of at least two churches made of guano and wood in the same place where the current one, built with durable materi-als between 1769 and 1770 over a chapel from the XVI century, is.
The "Sanjuanistas", Yucatecan independence fighters who had great importance in the inde-pendence of the General Captaincy of Yucatan from Spain, met in the chapel of this church during the XIX century, giving also a special historical importance to it. The "Sanjuanistas" were mainly a group of Creoles who discussed about independence but also economic and social issues. The group was strongly influenced by the ideas of the French Enlightenment of the XVIII century, and was founded by Vicente María Velázquez. They did not consider the creation of armies against the Spanish crown to be the best option, relying more on politics which was not free of persecution and danger from the dominant regime at the time. Oppos-ing them were the "Rutineros", officials of the crown and members of the clergy who wanted to maintain their status and persecuted the "Sanjuanistas".
In 1810 they met to discuss practical ways to help the Mayas in their education. Later, other members such as Jose Maria Quintana, father of Andres Quintana Roo joined them, and was the beginning of this organization. On several occasions they were not allowed to meet in this church.
Today the church has few parishioners, mostly people who knew the presbyter Juan Castro Lara. In the past there was a tradition of walking coming barefoot from the Ca-thedral.
The neighbourhood of San Juan was one of the border neighbourhoods between Spaniards and Indians.
In the church, the Mudejar-influenced corridor before the sacristy stands out, probably being the last evidence of the original chapel.
Indications: it is located 5 minutes from the centre by taxi, at 62nd and 69th streets.
Phone 999 928 5223
UNDERNEATH THE CITY…
The city of Mérida is full of legends about secret passages, usually between churches and convents.
There is a great oral tradition about the city, which speaks of an extensive system of underground communication made up of tunnels and caves that apparently linked strategic places in the city.
According to these legends, most of these tunnels would lead to the so-called Church of the Nuns. It is said that these passages were built by the cloistered nuns themselves in order to avoid contact with the outside world. The passages lead mainly to the Cathedral and the Franciscan church. It was also said that in the tunnels were found fetus left by the same nuns who were forced to have abortions and they were not only nuns but also other high society women pregnant by men who were not accepted by their families. Accord-ing to the archaeologist and researcher Alfredo Barrera Rubio, all these conjectures are only the product of popular imagination for several centuries.
The only thing that has been proven is the existence of some stretches of passageways, such as the one found between 62nd and 63rd streets, where there was a photo store and a tunnel or cavern was found, but there is no proof that it led to the cathedral.
Other tunnels were found in the so-called Casa de los Ladrillos, on the corner of 62nd and 63rd streets. Researchers determined that it was common to build these artificial passages in some of the main houses in the city centre from the beginning of the colonial period. There has been much speculation about their function, probably they were used by the first settlers to store foodstuffs and liquor.
The legends about the fetus could be based on a historical fact supported by reality. In 1867 the liberal army fighting with Benito Juárez expropriated the Convent of the Nuns. Benito Juarez´s desire to separate the Church from the Mexican State is well known, and they began talking about tunnels where women had sex with priests from the Cathedral.
Although little or nothing is proven about the existence of these tunnels, they also said that the church of San Miguel Arcángel in Maní was connected with the convent of the Nuns of Mérida, 100 kilometers away!
We know that the ancient Maya also created underground passages under the pyramids, and Mérida is built over the ancient Maya city of T´ho.
The fact is that the few sections that were discovered could be easily visited until recently, and some of them have been forgotten. Do you dare to look for them and investigate a little more on this subject? And if you find them..., Would you dare to enter any of them?
Address: Casa de las Monjas between 63 and 64 streets.
Casa de los Ladrillos and old photo store between 62 and 63 streets.
RELIGION ABOVE FRIENDSHIP
The Casa de Montejo is a monument you should see. It dates back to the XVI century and is located in the heart of the city, in Plaza Grande or Zócalo, being the best example of Renais-sance art in all of Mexico with that Hispanic touch of Plateresque art that was mainly found in Castile and Andalusia within the Iberian Peninsula and which was brought to Nueva España, as the conquerors called the Mexican lands. In fact, the Casa de Montejo is the only example of a civil house of this style in all of Mexico.
It is distinguished by its great gate with coats of arms of the family of the conqueror of Meri-da, Francisco Montejo, who gives it its name, and by two Spanish soldiers flanked by Mayan warriors. This façade has been preserved over the centuries despite the continuous alterations that the palace has undergone. It is also important to know that there was three Francisco de Montejo: El Mozo, El Adelantado and El Sobrino.
It was the Spanish crown itself that gave this house and granted him with the title of “Adelantado” to Don Francisco de Montejo "el Viejo" in 1526 for the services rendered and for the conquests carried out in Yucatan. In fact, the very foundation of the city of Mérida on the ruins of the ancient maya city of T´ho in 1542 was Adelantado´s decision.
This old palace now houses a bookshop and hosts temporary exhibitions. Inside it has im-portant furnishings from the period of the Yucatecan economic boom.
Legend has it that the Montejo family had great devotion to Catholicism, almost fanaticism, and that one day one of the family´s friends said he was the devil, as a joke. Such a statement did not amuse the members of the conqueror´s family, who took their friend to the tribunal of the Holy Office, better known as the Inquisition, something which in those times was not at all a good thing, even if it was proved that behind such statements there was only an attempt to make an innocent joke: the devils is not to be trifled with, and the Holy Inquisition even less...
Address: Casa de Montejo is located on one side of the Plaza Grande in Merida, also known as the Zocalo.
The Paseo de Montejo, is divided into two parts: The Paseo de Montejo itself and its exten-sion. It is the main avenue of the capital of Yucatan, where you can find the most beautiful, elegant and ancient palatial houses of the city, some of which are now banks or museums, and many others are still inhabited by individual owners. Also, on this path you will find res-taurants, bars, karaokes, discotheques, cafés and bakeries, making this place a meeting point for all the inhabitants of the city. Culture and fun come together in this main artery of Merida where you will always find something different to do. In addition, if you are lucky enough to spend Saturday night there, you will have the chance to enjoy the famous Mexican nightlife that is a mix of regional and vernacular music, handicrafts stalls and Mexican snacks.
The Paseo is connected to Santa Ana neighbourhood in the south and the busy port of Progreso in the north. The avenue takes its name from Francisco de Montejo, the conqueror of the city, and was built between 1888 and 1904 in a time of prosperity due to the production of henequen fibre. The road was extended three times in 1926, 1950 and 1979, and Plaza del Remate was added in 1995.
The first part of the tour which is the oldest and the closest to the historic centre of the city, starts at Plaza del Remate (which is curiously the most modern extension). There are plenty of French-style palaces with wide corridors adorned with trees and a decorated walkway or pavement. Multiple roundabouts house historical monuments. Some of the best examples of these luxurious palaces that you can see on both sides of the promenade are the Twin Houses, French neoclassical style, or the Canton Palace, the current Regional Museum of Anthropol-ogy that houses an excellent collection of pre-Columbian art found in this city before being founded again by the Spaniards, and from other places of the Yucatan peninsula. The Archive of Merida is of great importance.
Don´t forget that everywhere you go you will find restaurants, cafés, ice-cream and pastry shops to quench your hunger and thirst if necessary. This walk has an obligatory stop at the huge Homeland Monument, sculpted by Colombian artist Rómulo Rozo. This is the largest of all the monuments on the avenue, but as we have already told you, there are many others, such as the one dedicated to the conquistador Montejo and the one dedicated to Gonzalo Guerrero, the father of miscegenation.
This Spaniard, who shipwrecked in one of the first Castilian expeditions to the Yucatan, married a local princess with whom he had children, and was asked by the Spaniards to return to western civilisation and to his homeland, but he refused as he already felt fully identified with the locals.
Any time is a good time to stroll down this avenue where you´ll find all the architectural style of the city´s heyday with a very local atmosphere and plenty of quality places to eat and re-fresh yourself.
Address: it starts in Santa Ana neighbourhood, a few blocks from the zocalo or historic cen-tre, and goes all the way towards the port of Progreso further north.
A PARK FOR THE FAITHFUL?
Just at the intersection of 59 St. and 70 St. you´ll find a side entrance to a church. The church´s large esplanade is used for fundraising festivals. Even before you enter the park, this temple, so close to the zocalo, will give you a sense of tranquillity whether you are religious or not. Sitting quietly and unhurriedly on one of its benches, you can enjoy the religious paintings and pictures. Stay there for a while in seclusion, watching the many faithful come and go as they make their offerings.
The church, dedicated to the apostle Santiago, of whom there is an image on the wooden altarpiece in the presbytery, was completed in 1637, as is reflected in a legend next to the door.
Leaving the church through the main door we arrive at the park that has been declared a Na-tional Heritage Historical Monument Zone in accordance with the Federal Decree of 1982. This pleasant place, an oasis of freshness and greenery, has large trees to protect it from sun exposure very common in the city all year round... It is an ideal site to rest after having done some sightseeing in Merida, and besides, the sound of the water of its fountain will relax us even more.
The park has a play area for children if you are travelling with your family, and there is a place where you can charge your electronic devices such as your mobile phone as long as you bring the cable.
Very close to it, there is the Santos Degollado Market, a spectacle of colours, smells and fla-vours where you can also enjoy some local dishes such as salbutes, relleno negro, panuchos or cochinita pibil accompanied by some traditional Mexican water such as horchata, tamarindo or jamaica in its food stalls, at very cheap prices.
Address: Parque de Santiago is located only six blocks from the Plaza Grande or Zocalo. You can easily walk there by taking 59 St enjoying the way and you will soon reach 70 St where you can see the back of the church. If you are tired of walking you can also take a taxi.
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