Mérida Meánderings

Mérida is the capital and largest city in Yucatan state in Mexico, as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located about 22 miles from the coast. The current population of the metropolitan area of Merida is about 1.2 million inhabitants.

A free walking tour group comes to our little plaza every morning around 11:00, but we have never joined it. So far we’re doing Merida on our own, in our own way, slowly meandering a few blocks this way and that way.

“Plaza Grande” and the Merida Cathedral are in the heart of the historic center.
The Mérida Cathedral of St. Ildefonso is reputed to be one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas.
Buildings that face the Plaza Grande opposite the cathedral.
Porticoed buildings such as the Executive Palace face the Plaza Grande.

There were three Spanish conquistadors named “Francisco de Montejo.” Francisco de Montejo – the eldest; his son Francisco de Montejo y León, aka “el Mozo” and a nephew, Francisco de Montejo.

Francisco de Montejo y León (“el Mozo”) founded Mérida in 1542 naming it after the town of Mérida in Extremadura, Spain.

The oldest and most beautiful home facing the Plaza Grande is Casa Montejo constructed by Mérida’s founder between 1543 and 1549. It is built in the “Spanish Plateresque” style and originally occupied an entire block.

“If we go back to 1690 and imagine the fear of the pirate invasions, a fear that was shared with the neighboring state of Campeche, as well as the need to define the division between where the Spanish and “criollos” (offspring of the Spaniards that were born in America) lived and the indigenous people (“mulatos” and “mestizos”) lived, we can understand why the project of building a city wall with arches at the main entry/exit points was developed. Not all the planned arches were built, but eight were erected. Only three have survived the test of time.,,”

Two of the arches were nearby. This is Del Puente Arch.
The Del Puente arch has arches on each side of its bases through which pedestrians could pass. They must have been very short in those days!
Dragones Arch: In its niche is a barely visible image of San Antonio.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Mérida was said to be home to more millionaires than any other city in the world. The area surrounding Mérida prospered from the production of henequen, a fiber from the agave plant, which is suitable for rope and twine. Henequen has been called the “Green Gold.”

At the north end of the city is a roundabout marking the drastic division between Merida’s simple buildings and the tree-lined and French-inspired boulevard lined with elegant mansions. On Sundays mornings, the Paseo de Montejo, named for Merida’s founder, is closed to vehicular traffic and open for bicyclists.
The result of this concentration of wealth can still be seen today where large and elaborate homes line the Paseo de Montejo. Most of these homes have been restored and now serve as office buildings for banks and insurance companies.
Completed in 1911 “Las Casas Gemelas” (The Twin Houses), are two side by side French and Spanish style mansions. They are two of only a few houses that are still used as residences on Paseo de Montejo from that era.
This mansion now houses the Museum of Anthropology.
The main floor of this home is open for tours.
I don’t know the story why this one has a minaret or why a home of Moorish architectural style was constructed in a country of Spanish Roman Catholics?
Attractively illuminated at night! This is open to tour as well.
Quinta Montes Molina is available to tour.
The Paseo de Montejo Starbucks.
One of the Paseo de Montejo buildings that is in need of restoration.
Mérida is really an interesting place. Here we are taking a break from our meanderings in one of Merida’s leafy parks.

Congratulations for reading this far! I know, it was a lot of photos.

We’ve been in Mérida two weeks. I’ve been on a mission to sample all the unique Yucatecan culinary specialties. There’s a lot of them! I’ll tell you all about them next time I Meet You in the Morning from Mérida.

2 responses to “Mérida Meánderings

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