In 2017, the Mexican city of Merida was named the American Capital of Culture for a second time, highlighting the Yucatán capital's abundant riches. For travelers looking to explore beyond Mexico’s world-class beaches this winter, here are 10 reasons to put the “White City” on your bucket list.
Merida’s culture is a distinctive blend of traditions inherited from the ancient Maya civilization dating back to 2600 B.C. and customs brought by Spanish conquistadors, who began colonizing the territory in the 16th century.
The Cultural Hub of Yucatán
The city of Merida itself was founded by Francisco de Montejo y León in 1542 on top of an ancient Maya city called T’ho, whose stonework was repurposed by the Spaniards as foundations to erect lofty Catholic churches and colonial mansions. After 500 years of coexistence, a comingling of rituals and beliefs created a vibrant cultural identity that continues to shape this dynamic city.
Travelers from near and far come to experience the Yucatán’s well-preserved Maya archaeological sites. Seventy-five miles east of Merida lies Chichén Itzá, one of Mexico’s most impressive and visited ruins due to its designation as a new wonder of the world. The pre-Columbian city was one of the largest and most diverse and features a mix of architectural styles.
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