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Buildings of Merida
The old city of Merida, Mexico is the perfect choice for the history travelers looking to escape the winter. If is wasn't for the occasional thump of a coconut falling to the ground or the sight of  iguanas scurrying along stone garden walls, you'd swear you were in one of the great cities. There are many places to stay in Merida and it's cheaper than the resorts of the Yucatan Peninsula. From here, it's a quick bus ride to the beaches on the Gulf. Visit the villages of  Progesso, or Chelem or rent a house here, (less than $500. for a week) and visit Merida from the coast.
 
There has been a  Mayan culture based here long before the arrival of the conquistadors. However, it was "officially" founded by Francisco de Montejo in 1540 when he came across the settlement of Mayans. He quickly took it over, naming it Merida after  the city in Spain. Even then, these Mayan buildings were well-built. They were made with stone and mortared with lime and with the passing of years, it became one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico.
 
Make your way to the Plaza Mayor. Here you will find the Catedral or Cathedral,built in 1561. Prior to this, there was a Mayan temple here and the cathedral was built using some of the stone from that temple. This is a great monster of a building, but one you have to see, for the baroque architectural details, the paintings and the main alter. This depicts a statue of Jesus and the proud people of Merida consider it one of their greatest treasures. It is said the statue was carved from a tree that was hit by lightening. Legend has it, it burned throughout the night, but without flame. The statue was placed in a local church in Ichmul and when that church burned down, the statue was barely touched and was moved to Merida Cathedral in 1645.
  
Directly across the square is the Palacio Municipal, built in 1542 with many renovations  and changes since. On the south side of the Plaza is Casa de Montejo, built for the Montejo family, shortly after the city's founding. Today it holds a bank and you can only view the building when the bank is open. It's hard to fathom, turning this building into a bank, but there you have it. The outside facade is worth a look though. You'll see the conquistadors triumphant after a battle. You will also see busts of the early Montego family and their armorial shields.  
 
To the north is Park or Parque Hidalga. From here you will see the beautiful Iglesia de Jesus built in 1618. This is all that survives of a series of Jesuit buildings from the time. The Jesuits founded the University of Yucatan and their is a huge library behind this old church. In front of the church is the statue Parque de la Madre or the Madonna and Child statue.
 
You can turn off any side street from the Plaza and see more and more wonderful old buildings. Even the 19th century buildings have beauty in the details. Old and weathered stone is everywhere and every turn, a surprise. It's a history traveler’s dream.


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Buildings of Merida