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"It is the homage to the racial heritage as in the typical dishes there are traces of the indigenous past with ingredients that today have adopted the elegance of the flavors of Europe and the Caribbean, thus the menu is peculiar, varied and full of flavor."
- Jadranka Vrsalovic

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The first "American Capital of Culture"
by Jadranka Vrsalovic, Barcelona, Spain
Apr 5, 1999

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In the heart of the city one can find the "Plaza Grande" or "Plaza de Armas", and around this square there are five of the most important buildings in Merida. The "Catedral de San Ildefonso" built between 1561 and 1598, the "Casa de Montejo" built between 1543 and 1549 by the founder of Merida Don Fransico de Montejo "El Mozo" with a precious façade, the only jewel of the civil plateresque architecture in existence today in Mexico, the "Palacio Municipal" rising above the ruins of ancient T’ho which underwent alterations dating back to 1928, the "Palacio del Gobierno de Yucatan", of evident neoclassical lines treasuring a collection of murals done by Yucatan’s painter Fernando Castro Pacheco, and finally the old "Palacio Arzobispal", today the museum of contemporary art. In one of the corners of "Plaza Grande" one can find the "Olimpo", a most modern cultural center that offers daily exhibitions, conferences, concerts, theatrical shows, gatherings, and a planetarium ready to be open to the public.


Not far from the heart of the city there is an old colonial building, headquarters of the "Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan", built in 1711, as well as the elegant and modern "Teatro Jose Peon Contreras" built in 1908, abandoned during the 70’s and re-inaugurated in 1981.

One of the main attractive features of Merida is its central location becoming the starting point to visit the Caribbean beaches. From the Port of Progreso to luxurious Cancun, the huts of Tulum, the ruins of Uxmal, Mayapan, Chichen Itza the largest and most important Mayan city of the Mayan Peninsula which mythological name signifies " the city of the witches of water", the colonial cities of Valladolid, Campeche the refuge of pirates and the paradise of fishermen, the Franciscan convents of Izamal, Mani, the sanctuary of flamencos of Celestun, or the Reserve of the Biosfera of Sian Ka’an.

Within the Municipality of Merida and less than fifteen minutes from the city one can find Dzibilchaltun, a pre-historic Spanish town that means "place where there are writings on the stones", or "where there are writings on the flat stones". This Mayan center that existed from the year 500 AC to the year 1500 BC is one of the oldest in the Mayan zone. Prominent monuments such as the "Casa de las Siete Muñecas" where every equinox, March 21st and September 21st it can be experienced the equinoctial phenomenon of the rising of the sun through the gates of the monument.

To understand the peaceful character of the Meridan is far from knowing him. Joyful, serene, and hospitable, the local inhabitant of the city has no need to be remembered of the importance of a warm welcome and a good treatment to the visitors, who return to their places satisfied of the great hospitality received from the inhabitants of the city.

Many women today wear the hipil, the typical mestizo dress embroidered with vivid colors. Many men including young ones wear the guayabera, a shirt of Caribbean flavor made of flax and cotton, common in the countries of Central-America and the Caribbean.

Due primarily of the mixture of Spanish and Mayan, although there were immigrants from China, Korea and Lebanon, the Yucatanians are a good example of the American mestizo. The hybrid characteristics of their faces leave no doubt of the Mayan and Spanish intermingling.

In Merida, as well as in all Yucatan and Mexico, Spanish is spoken. However in small villages around the city where many houses still have walls of stone or build with logs and mud, covered with thatch, people continue to use the Mayan language, situation that occasionally happens among shopkeepers in the markets. In the everyday conversation one can detect the use of some Mayan words that enrich the language giving it character and grace.

What's the local food like?

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