Merida Attractions | Things to do in Merida
The historic center, with its cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, museums, restaurants, and cafes overlooking the main square and the cathedral, is in itself an attraction for visitors seeking to spend a relaxing day and a quiet laid-back evening in the city. A horse-drawn carriage ride or city tour aboard a Turibus (double-decker sightseeing bus) are both great ways to experience even more of the White City.
In Merida, as in any city built during colonial times, it’s possible to see the beautiful city church in the historic center, just across from the main square. The Merida Cathedral features a blend of various architectural styles, with a Renaissance style facade, Baroque altarpieces, and Moorish style towers and interior. Its construction began in 1561 under the order of King Phillip II and was completed in 1598. The machinery of the big clock was built in London in 1731 and remained functional until 1871, when it chimed for the last time.
Casa de Montejo
Although it was built over 450 years ago, the impressive facade of this mansion house has been beautifully preserved to this day. The style of its decoration is a perfect example of the work of sixteenth-century Spanish silversmiths, which is why this building is considered the most valuable gem of “Plateresque” art in the country. This magnificent property was the home of the founder of Merida and his descendants until 1832. For this reason, it proudly displays the Montejo coat of arms, along with many other carved stone details on its cornices, columns, and balconies.
Paseo de Montejo
Built in honor of the founder of Merida, Francisco de Montejo, this gorgeous avenue showcases the most beautiful buildings in all of Merida. It was incorporated into the urban layout of the city in the nineteenth century, when President Porfirio Diaz made French style architecture fashionable as part of the centennial Independence celebrations. Today, this is reflected in the beautifully-preserved mansions that line the avenue, many of which house government or private sector offices, museums, sophisticated shops, and lively nightclubs.
Merida on Sunday
Every Sunday, beginning early in the morning, the main streets throughout the downtown area are closed to traffic for pedestrians. Between the Plaza Grande and Parque de la Madre you’ll find small street stalls selling food, clothing, handicrafts, toys, and various other unique items. Bici-Ruta (a 3-mile route through the city that’s closed to traffic for cyclists) is a fun way to see many of the top attractions in Merida. Without a doubt, this weekly event is a great way to experience Yucatecan culture.
Centro Cultural Olimpo
The Olimpo Cultural Center has several interesting cultural exhibitions; however its main attraction is the Planetarium, which is named after the distinguished Yucatecan astronomer Dr. Arcadio Poveda, who in 1956 was the first Mexican astronomer with academic training. With a sophisticated projection system and surround sound, the Planetarium takes the viewer on a fascinating virtual journey through the cosmos, while teaching them about the formation of the universe.
Autonomous University of Yucatan
The central building of the Autonomous University of Yucatan (Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan) houses the administrative offices and the main library of the top university in the state. It is housed in a charming building that stands out for having a beautiful courtyard, decorative arches in the halls, and its own theater. It has a constant flow of students and is routinely selected for hosting small academic events. ching them about the formation of the universe.
The theaters in the city of Merida are true architectural gems. The Peon Contreras Theater, for example, is a beautiful building with a French neoclassical style that was inaugurated in 1908. The Daniel Ayala Theater, meanwhile, was built in the seventeenth century and thanks to its title as “Main Theater,” has for many years hosted the best comedy troupes, revues, and zarzuelas (musical comedy) from Mexico City and Havana. Another beautiful theater worth visiting is the Armando Manzanero Theater, formerly the Cine Merida.
Inaugurated in the twentieth century, this beautiful mansion with French style architecture was the home of Francisco Canton Rosa and his family. Canton served as the governor of Yucatan from 1898 to 1902 and is known for his participation in the Caste War against the Mayan rebels, as well as for being a prominent henequen and railway entrepreneur. Today, this building houses the Regional Archeology and History Museum of Yucatan. It exhibits original artifacts from the Mayan culture and the colonial era.
Quinta Montes Molina
This grand mansion was built during the Porfiriato era and stands as a symbol of the economic boom of henequen production in the early twentieth century. It is the only mansion of its kind to have been preserved in its original state and opened to the public. It often hosts some of the most exclusive social events in Merida, and it also features a museum with European furnishings and luxurious décor in the style of wealthy Yucatecans from that era. tifacts from the Mayan culture and the colonial era.
Ermita de Santa Isabel
This religious building was built under the order of Gaspar Gonzalez de Ledezma during the time when it was believed that the building of a church guaranteed salvation of the soul. Because of its location along an old royal road to Campeche, it was also known as the Ermita de Nuestra Senora del Buen Viaje (Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage). It was built next to a picturesque park in one of the most traditional neighborhoods of Merida.
Great Mayan World Museum
This museum was opened to mark the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012. Its architecture is a representation of the ceiba tree, which is considered sacred by the ancient Mesoamerican culture. It has an exhibit about Yucatan life and another that tells the story of the Chicxulub meteorite that is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs. It also features dynamic interactive exhibits that explore the history of the state of Yucatan.
Merida is proud to offer several museums that showcase the history of the city and state. The Folk Art Museum has exhibits on Mayan art and culture, along with examples of folk art from the state. The City Museum is where you’ll find pre-Colombian, colonial, and Independence era artifacts, as well as items from subsequent years, including the henequen boom and the revolution. The Ateneo Contemporary Art Museum of Yucatan (M.A.C.A.Y. Museum) has permanent exhibitions of Art History, Yucatecan “Maya Chuy” Embroidery, Mexican silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
A fantastic tour aboard this unique double-decker sightseeing bus can make your stay in Merida unforgettable, as it comfortably takes you to see all of the main attractions in the city while sharing information about their historical, architectural, and even religious significance at each point along the route. When you ride the Turibus, you’ll have the option to hop-on and hop-off throughout the day at any of the established stops, making it an easy and convenient way to see all of the top attractions in this beautiful city. permanent exhibitions of Art History, Yucatecan “Maya Chuy” Embroidery, Mexican silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
This is one of the most traditional attractions in the city of Merida. This zoo is where people of all ages can see a variety of species of animals, have fun on the rides, or enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the artificial lake. A visit to the Centenario Zoo is not complete without a ride on the “little train,” which has several open-top cars. It tours the length of the park, including an exciting stretch through a dark tunnel. see all of the top attractions in this beautiful city. permanent exhibitions of Art History, Yucatecan “Maya Chuy” Embroidery, Mexican silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
Parque de las Americas
Parque de las Americas is divided into four sections: the first features a large stone fountain with serpents that represent Kukulkan; the second has an outdoor amphitheater for hosting cultural events; the third is where you’ll find playgrounds and an area for renting bikes and skates; and the fourth with a building shaped like a Mayan hut where murals of the American continent and portraits of famous people from various countries on the continent are displayed. is beautiful city. permanent exhibitions of Art History, Yucatecan “Maya Chuy” Embroidery, Mexican silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
In each of the sections you can see columns with numbers and symbols that represent the countries that make up Latin America, and you’ll also find benches where you can relax under the shade of large trees.
Located 22 miles north of Merida, Progreso is a small port city that’s experiencing an economic boom. It is the main port providing access to the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the most important ports on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also a favorite vacation destination for Merida residents during the spring and summer seasons, as well as a popular cruise ship destination. With its boardwalk, delicious seafood cuisine, and peaceful atmosphere, Progreso is a great place to enjoy the warm climate of the “Tierra del Mayab.”
This ancient archeological site is located 10 minutes from Merida, near the entrance to Mayab University. Among its buildings stands the Temple of the Seven Dolls, named for seven small effigies that were found at the site, and famous for its scenery during the spring and fall equinoxes. The site also features the Maya Community Museum, which showcases the lifestyle of the ancient Mayans and some of the customs that are still practiced today in the rural communities in the state of Yucatan. Another attraction at the site that you don’t want to miss is Cenote Xlacah, with its lilies and deep waters.
The architecture of this ancient Mayan city stands out for its beautiful fretwork, friezes, and archways. It features impressive structures like the Pyramid of the Magician, the Governor’s Palace, and the House of the Turtles. Located along the Puuc Route, this archeological site offers a nightly light and sound show that take place in the Nunnery Quadrangle. s the main port providing access to the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the most important ports on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also a favorite vacation destination for Merida residents during the spring and summer seasons, as well as a popular cruise ship destination. With its boardwalk, delicious seafood cuisine, and peaceful atmosphere, Progreso is a great place to enjoy the warm climate of the “Tierra del Mayab.”
Izamal is known for its archways, facades, and the fact that most of its buildings are painted yellow, making it a place that’s hard to forget. The beautiful buildings located throughout this quiet town are unique and distinguishable from the style of other colonial towns on the Yucatan Peninsula. The former convent of San Antonio de Padua is where you’ll find the image of Our Lady of Izamal. It is known for having the second-largest atrium in the world after the Vatican. In addition, it was visited by Pope John Paul II. n silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon
This hacienda, still in operation, offers visitors the chance to learn about history, nature, and the industrialization of henequen processing that made Yucatan wealthy centuries ago. You can explore the historic buildings, tour the property in a cart on rails called a "truck" that’s pulled by mules, and swim in an incredible cenote located inside a cave. age of Our Lady of Izamal. It is known for having the second-largest atrium in the world after the Vatican. In addition, it was visited by Pope John Paul II. n silver, contemporary artwork, and building history, among others. It also hosts cultural events and temporary art exhibitions.
The Loltun Cave is located 68 miles southeast of Merida and contains evidence of early human settlements in the Yucatan Peninsula. The remains of mammoths and other extinct animals have also been found at this site, demonstrating that this was once a cold weather region. More than a mile of the cave is currently open to the public for guided tours to appreciate the majestic rock formations that are sure to amaze visitors.
This small town still retains the atmosphere of a quiet fishing village. Named a Biosphere Reserve for its natural riches, Celestun treats visitors to a lush landscape of mangroves, springs, a petrified forest, and a coconut farm. The main attraction is the flocks of pink flamingos that gather along the coast. This destination also has spectacular semi-virgin beaches with beautiful emerald green waters and gentle waves. insula. The remains of mammoths and other extinct animals have also been found at this site, demonstrating that this was once a cold weather region. More than a mile of the cave is currently open to the public for guided tours to appreciate the majestic rock formations that are sure to amaze visitors.
This attraction, located 25 miles from Merida, is a circuit made up of three cenotes. The first is Cenote Chelentun, which is partially open and well-lit, making it one of the safest places to swim. Next on the itinerary is Cenote Chak-Zinik-Che, which is deeper than the first and features the roots of trees that give it a unique touch. The last of the three is Cenote Bolom-Chojol, which is almost entirely covered and dimly lit by the small amount of natural light that’s able to get in. It is ideal for adventure lovers because in order to swim you must first dive into the water.
To reach these three cenotes you’ll need to take the “truck”, a type of rustic horse-drawn cart that moves over tracks, similar to a train. When taking this transportation, you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate the lush rainforest along the way.
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