A must do before leaving Merida was a tour of the city’s Historic Centre. We squeezed this free, city tour in yesterday morning and learned a whole bunch more about the city we have called home these last three months.
We arrived to the Municipal Palace at 9:30AM and joined 15 other tourists from all over the world (US, Canada, Argentina, Japan and Mexico City) and Victor, our tour guide, on a stroll around the main plaza and Merida’s Historic Centre.
For the next two hours, Victor walked us through the main buildings surrounding the plaza, including Merida’s Cathedral, the Governor’s Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Casa Francisco de Montejo (home to the founders of the Spanish Merida, which is now a museum).
One of the most interesting tidbits we learned was that when the Spanish arrived to Merida, it was an abandoned Maya city of five pyramids hidden beneath years of jungle growth. We were impressed to hear that the main pyramid that sat on what is now the main plaza was 40 meters high (just think of how imposing that pyramid must have been and how much work it would take to build something like that!). The Mayans had abandoned the city years before, which is speculated to have been the result of warfare during a long period of draughts, which meant the area came under Spanish control with little effort. After the Spanish claimed the abandoned city, they quickly began to tear down the pyramids and using the stones to build three of Merida’s current churches (including the cathedral) and two other government buildings that currently house the two municipal markets.
The tour ended at the Governor’s Palace viewing the impressive murals and paintings that depicted the life of the Mayan people and the Spanish conquest, accompanied by a thorough explanation of each.
On the way back home we stopped at the Monumento a la Patria, a beautiful stone monument that depicts Mexico’s history from colony to independence and the reform to the revolution. It also has 31 columns representing each state of Mexico. This monument is quite beautiful to see, especially at night when colorful lights give it a magical feel.
Enjoy the photos.