MERIDA MEXICO GENERAL OVERVIEW
Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan. Known as "White City" because of the large use of white limestone and white paint this traditional city depicts much of the splendor of Colonial Mexico. This is by no means to say that Merida still exists in a time warp and the contrary could be said. There is old and new exhibited in everything from fashion to architecture.
The Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo founded present day Merida in 1542. An insight into the horrendous pain and suffering of the people who were brutalized by the conquering conquistadors exists in magnificent paintings that are on display in the Governor's Palace located in downtown Merida.
Left in seclusion for many years because of the difficulty of traveling to Merida the people of this region have cultivated a distinct contemporary society that is unique in Mexico.
Merida is a safe place to visit and the people are warm and friendly. I asked a friend once about crime in Merida and he simply stated that there was no place to run there. Being such a close-knit society I took it to mean that violent acts of crime are simply not committed here that often because they are more or less one big family.
There is lots of traffic in Merida, especially downtown. Taking the local bus can be tricky if you do not speak Spanish. The majority of streets are one-way and the bus routes wind all over the place and if you are not on top of things you can end walking more than you expected.
If you are in relatively good shape and don't mind the heat [it's hot in the summer] then you can walk to almost every attraction if you stay near the downtown main plaza. This is a great way to get to know the city and once you figure out the street [calle] numbering system, getting lost is unlikely.
The biggest problem you will encounter in Merida is finding a hotel with a swimming pool that fits into your budget. You may want to inquire if the pool is indeed in operation before you make your booking if you feel you need to have the use of a pool, especially in the summer months.
Merida is nothing like Cancun or Playa del Carmen and if you want to experience Mexican culture while staying relatively close to the Caribbean Sea then Merida is a great place to go. There are lots of interesting shops to browse in, if you seek some familiarity, the Merida WalMart is well stocked and also has a food-court.
Outstanding regional dishes and traditional music and dances local to this region can be found in restaurants, theatres and shops housed both near the main plaza and in palatial mansions along Paseo de Montejo - a boulevard fashioned after Paris' Champs Elysée.
Progreso, Merida's port city, is 30 kilometers north and is an interesting area to visit to see the salt-flats and flamingos.
Being centrally located, Merida is a practical hub to explore numerous ruin sites and ecological wonders. Many charters fly into Merida or you can take a four-hour bus ride from Cancun. There are also two highways connecting Cancun and Merida plus many roads winding their way through the jungle from Tulum.
For current Merida hotel and resort information including rates, availability and secure on-line reservations please see:
Merida Hotels and Resorts
Merida Airport to Merida Hotels:
From the Main Plaza (also called Plaza Principal) you can see The Cathedral, on the east side of the Plaza, Palacio Municipal which is Merida's town hall built in 1735, Casa de Montejo, former home of the conquerer of Yucatan and Palacio de Govierno. Horse and buggy rides can be picked up from the Plaza which will take you sightseeing or back to your hotel.
Casa Montejo is an excellent sample of Spanish Colonial architecture. Construction on this grandiose home of the founding fathers of Merida started in 1549.
This magnificent cathedral is known for the murals depicting the meeting between Montejo and the Mayan King Tutl Xiu. Construction of this cathedral began in 1561.
Palacio de Govierno
The Governor's Palace houses 27 wall size murals illustrating the somewhat violent bloody history of the Yucatan. The artist spent his entire life working on these paintings.
La Ermita de Santa Isabela
A quiet relaxing place with beautiful gardens and statues. It is located just outside of the city wall.
Paseo de Montejo Boulevard
Historical boulevard fashioned after those found in Paris, France. Stately homes, shops and quaint restaurants. The Merida WalMart is located at the north end of the boulevard, which is quite surprising.
Regional Anthropology Museum
Home to many original stone carvings from nearby Mayan sights. This museum also contains rare objects made of brass and copper [who says the Mayans did not use metal].
The University of Yucatan offers folkloric regional dancing on Friday nights at calle 60 by 57.
Sunday is the day of the outdoor handicraft market and food festival in Merida. Happening at Main Plaza, Hidalgo Park and Santa Lucia Park from 9-9 and Casa de las Artesanias from 9-1:30.
Thursday the Santa Lucia Park hosts the Yucatan Serenade, an open air concert featuring Yucatan dress, dance, music and folklore starting at 9:00. Santa Lucia Park is located at calle 60 and 57.
Our tours are perfect for singles, seniors, and children.
Located 80 km west of Merida on Highway 281.
Celestún is a small fishing village and bird sanctuary on the Gulf of Mexico in the Western Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Inland waterways provide a natural habitat for flamingoes, herons and other tropical birds. If you are lucky you may see a flock of flamingos flying over you which is quite an experience.
Hacienda San Pedro Ochil
Located about 50 km south of Merida on the road to Campeche.
Convenient for visitors to Uxmal and other nearby Mayan ruins.
Contains Museum of Yucatan Peninsula Haciendas and shops with local artisans working on different typical folk-art and clothing.
To learn more visit:
Komchén de los Pajaros
Located 35 km northeast of Merida - 50 km from Rio Lagartos.
The Komchén Bird Sanctuary is a private non-profit organization created at Hacienda Henequenera. This sanctuary provides facilities for the practice of ecotourism. Its mission is "to sustainably develop and conserve a nature reserve and at the same time improve the living conditions of local people".
To learn more visit:
Located about 85 km east to Tizimín and 30 km north.
Declared a wildlife refuge in 1979, the Rio Lagartos Reserve covers over 100,000 acres of a wide variety of habitats including flamingoes, howler monkeys, crocodiles, jaguars, pheasants and white tail deer.
Flamingos can also be seen at Uaymitun, just north east of Progreso. Visit the lookout tower that is right next to the road. Entrance is free and the caretakers will even lend you binoculars.
Izamal is located 45 minutes northwest of Merida via car, a bit more by bus or van. Upon arrival head to the Government Palace to see the large model of the entire town and the tremendous amount of Mayan pyramids that sprinkled about. Pope John Paul visited the Franciscan Convent in 1993. The Museums of the Community is located under the Convent in front of the 5 de Mayo Park.
Valladolid is located halfway between Merida and Cancun. It is a small, quaint town that still preserves a colonial flavor. The majority of the townspeople still wear typical dress of the Maya. Cenote Dzitnup is great for swimming. The San Roque Museum has huge murals depicting Mexican history.
Cenote Ik Kil
Ik Kil is a favorite cenote near Chichen Itza.
To learn more visit:
Club de Golf de Yucatan Merida now has an 18 hole par 72 golf course/country club complete with swimming pool, steam baths, weight-room, children's park, mini golf, pro shop and restaurant.
Built on what was once the grounds of the Mayan ruins of Dzbilchaltun. Dzibilchaltun is one of the oldest known sites in Mayan world. This city and its surrounding area was believed to be home to over 8000 structures spread over nine square miles.
If you are staying in Merida with your family, especially during the summer months then you might want to consider spending the day here, even if you don't play golf.
The club also offers Spinning and Jazz classes as well as nine tennis courts.
Memberships are available to local visitors spending the winter months here.
Facilities include: 18 hole golf course, swimming pool, mini-golf, 9 tennis courts, vapor room [sauna], weight room, children's play park, pro shop and restaurant.
|Designer:||Felix Mier y Teran y Vicente Erosa
|Location:||Carr. Merida - Progreso km 14.5|
The club has a
, [everything is in Spanish].
Club de Golf de Yucatan is located just off the Merida-Progreso highway just outside Merida.
Merida Weather Review [For each month of the year].
Includes: Average Temperature, High/Low Temperature, Relative Humidity And more...
MERIDA TOURIST INFORMATION
Information for tourists can easily be found downtown at:
Tourist Information Center
Corner of calles 60 and 57A
City Tourist Office
Calles 59 and 62
Ruin sites located within a reasonable distance from Merida are:
*** large site ** medium site * small site
View Ruin site Map for this area.
For more information regarding visiting ruin sites please investigate
News From Merida and the Yucatan
Merida Mexico in Summer (or Summer in Yucatan)
Travelers are often led to believe that Merida in summer is almost a ghost town because of the tropical heat. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Merida in summer is different than in other seasons but, overall, this city of over a million people and even towns at the beach are surprisingly busy places throughout the summer months. These are just a few of the travel activities available during summer in Merida and beyond.
Summer in the City of Merida
Fun in the sun and sand, plus volunteering to help first one marine animal and then another, may not be everybody’s idea of traveling fun. Some people come to Yucatan to spend time in the art galleries, looking for that special piece they’ve always dreamed of owning. Some come for the theater and concerts. Some come for the shopping. Whatever the reason, there is something for every traveler in the summer in the City of Merida.
Merida in June - End of the School Year Recitals
The State of Yucatan probably produces more internationally accomplished musicians, voices, dancers, theater actors and support persons, and artists than any other state in the world. This is no mysterious miracle. It is the result of hard work in state supported schools. Within the Institute of Culture framework, along with the local universities, both students and teachers are expected to give recitals in June and again in December. The Institute of Culture and the Municipality of Merida each announce the recitals in advance and they are listed weekly in Yucatan Living. These recitals begin in late May and run well into July. Admission is free and there is no other place in the world where travelers can find this quality of performance from students and their teachers.
Los Leones (June & July)
Baseball continues, in Yucatan, almost every day until the very end of July. This year is Los Leones 33rd consecutive year as a member of the Mexican Baseball League. During that time, they have won three titles and have been runnerups three times.
Merida in July - Opera Yucatan (July & August)
For travelers who will be in Yucatan on Monday nights, Opera Yucatan is presenting a repeat showing of the eight operas that were shown monthly during the regular season. These are performances by the Metropolitan Opera of New York and its a wonderful way to spend a night out in a city like Merida. The shows are at Siglo XXI Convention Center at 7:00 PM and admission is only a donation of $40 pesos. After the show, desert and coffee at a nice restaurant should make for a memorable evening for any traveler.
Merida in August - Shopping and Movies
What a wonderful month in the city! Almost everyone has left for a month-long vacation at the beach. There are plenty of seats available at the movies and none of the malls are crowded. Believe it or not, there are plenty of travelers who go to the most marvelous destinations and spend their entire vacations in the local malls.
Medical and Dental Tourism
While almost everyone is away at the beach, now is the time for travelers who are interested in medical and dental tourism to arrive in Merida. Add a few luxurious spa days to your recovery time and you too will understand why world class medical care and luxury personal care makes Merida a health care destination.
At The Beach Near Merida
The coast of Yucatan is less than 30 minutes from Merida and good roads extend both to the east and west of Progreso. This means that every small town along the coast now has potential for becoming a favorite destination for travelers. July and August are the busiest months of the year along the coast, with visitors from around the world and many Merida residents who come to spend the two summer months.
June 1: Navy Day
Summer begins, at the beach, on June 1st with Dia de la Marina (Navy Day). This day honors not only the marine sector that protects the people, fishermen and boaters; but there is also a procession across the water to lay a wreath in honor of sailors who have lost their lives in the performance of their duty. After the official events are over, it is time to celebrate with kayak and canoe races, loads of water toys, beach volleyball, and even fishing out on the pier. These activities will continue, especially on Sundays, throughout the summer.
Turtle nesting season begins at the end of May and runs until the end of November. If someone finds a nest on the beach, they can simply call local police to have someone come and rescue the eggs. Turtle eggs are cared for on two centers that are especially designed to incubate and hatch the eggs, then feed the baby turtles for two weeks, until they are ready to be set free in the sea. In recent years, it has become customary for small children to be the ones who free the baby turtles. This is a wonderful experience for travelers. The best places to watch for baby turtles hatching and heading for the sea are on the stretch of beach between Sisal and Celestun, which is a state park, and on the stretch of beach between Rio Lagartos and El Cuyo, which is a federal park. To volunteer to work with protecting the baby turtles, please visit the PRONATURA website and download the full file for Marine Turtle Conservation. If you are considering volunteering to work with the sea turtles, be aware that you will be signing on for at least a month, probably living in a tent, and that volunteers will only be transferred in and out on the 2nd and 16th of the month.
If travelers just want to take pictures of flamingos, the best time to come is during the summer. In March, the big pink birds are busy building their nests but, by the end of May, the nests are finished and eggs have been laid. This year, by the first of June, there were over a thousand nests with eggs out at the Rio Lagartos Bioreserve. There are tours available both in the Rio Lagartos / El Cuyo area and in Celestun. It is interesting to note that there are commercial salt flats in both areas and the increased salinity of the water results in such increases in the numbers of brine shrimp that the water actually looks as if it is red. These little animals are a favorite food of flamingos and are responsible for their pink color. If travelers would like to come and volunteer to help in the banding of several thousand young flamingos, they are more than welcome to register with Ninos y Crias (Kids and Critters). Banding takes place each year during either the last week in August or the first week in September.
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Expatriates - Living, Working and Playing in Merida and the Yucatan