Mérida, which has wide squares and beautiful cathedrals, features that attract people with its central location and cultural richness. Mérida, the capital city in Yucatan state in Mexico also known as the cultural capital city of Mexico. Mérida, which contains a variety of places from Unesco listed archaeological sites to today’s modern arts, is also an important stopover for architects.
Mérida, nicknamed the white city, provides the opportunity to explore the city’s atmosphere. White buildings, pastel-colored houses and the city’s colonial architecture impress on you while walking through the streets. Merida has a lot of reasons for architects to visit this city, not only with its urban texture, but also with its various buildings and places.
Here is the list of 15 places Architects must visit while in Mérida:
The region, about 30 minutes north of Merida, has been home to a long history. The name of the area Mayan, which is the Maya archaeological site, means “writing on stones”. The region has been occupied continuously throughout history. Due to this intense history, it offers the opportunity to discover the unity of buildings and remains of Mayan and Spanish architecture.
Structures like Temple of the Seven Dolls, large plaza, unusual amphitheater, open chapels and Cenote at Dzibilchaltún are the highlights of the area that attract attention.
2. Uxmal Ruins
The area, which is the remains of a city called Uxmal, built around AD 700, and today it has been named as Unesco World Heritage Site. While visiting the Uxmal Ruins region, it actually offers the opportunity to experience the area very well. You can climb many ruins and get into it. This gives the chance to evaluate the area from many different angles while exploring.
The site, located not far from Mérida is, therefore, a must-visit area when visiting the city. The Puuc style of Mayan architecture is dominant in the Uxmal ruins, which have survived in a much better-preserved form than many other ruin sites.
3. The Grand Mayan World Museum
The museum, which was built in 2012, aimed to display the lifestyle of the Mayans and their effects on the present inside, while aiming to bring the past and present techniques together in the context of its architecture. Visiting The Grand Mayan World Museum, which is designed by architects, Enrique Duarte Aznar, Josefina Rivas Acevedo, Ricardo Combaluzier Medina, and William Ramirez Pizarro, has been important for the architecture world because of its building materials that also used by the Mayans and creating a connection between the past and the present with the geometric form of the museum.
The resemblance of the building to the Ceiba or Ya’axche tree, has a relation with the mythology in the Mayan universe. The light and color games on the outer walls of the building reveal the relationship between today’s architecture and Mayan architecture.
4. Catedral de Mérida
Built 19 years after Mérida was founded in 1561, the cathedral is the first cathedral built on the American mainland. Moorish in the towers, Renaissance in interior and facade, and also there are Baroque traces on some of the walls of the cathedral, which was built in a different architectural style. Its plain façade has pointed arches, and outside the cathedral, it can be seen the statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Inside the cathedral, there are three ornate vaulted and Gothic carved corridors. The most striking part of the cathedral is a 7.65-meter-high painting hand-carved by the Spanish sculptor Ramon Madrid Lapayese River.
5. Olimpo Cultural Center
The venue, which hosts international exhibitions, classical music concerts, shows and theaters, was built in 1999. Opened to celebrate the 457th anniversary of Mérida’s establishment, the building has become a place dedicated to promoting art. The beautiful colonnade cultural center is adjacent to the city hall.
This building, which is the cultural center of the municipality, was designed to preserve the colonial character of the plaza. The marble interior includes various functions such as conferences and workshops, exhibitions and library, as well as the planetarium where information about the universe is presented.
6. Paseo de Montejo
The region, named after the Spanish conqueror Francisco de Montejo, who founded Merida, is perhaps the most interesting and vibrant region of Mexico. The street that starts in the historic city center is surrounded by large trees and full of beautiful buildings to see around it. Almost all of these beautiful buildings are private mansions built in the 19th century.
Although today the functions of these mansions have changed like hotels and business centers, this special city and historical heritage of Mérida is worth seeing. Among these mansions, there are also structures that are dedicated as museum and exhibition areas and reflect the rich history and architecture of Mérida.
7. Palacio Canton
Palacio Canton is the anthropology museum of Yucatan, was built as a family mansion for the governor of the region. Later, after hosting functions such as a school and fine arts academy, it was decided to become an anthropology museum in 1966. In the city of Merida, which went through a period of prosperity and wealth at the end of the 19th century, this building reflects the richness and splendor of the period and was designed by Italian architect Enrico Deserti.
The building has an eclectic French style with baroque and neo-classical elements. Palacio Canton has become magnificent with the materials used and the size of the building. The palace, which has become the most outstanding building in Paseo de Montejo, stands out with its luxury building materials, archives, and non-structural free column system.
8. Casa de Montejo
Dating from 1540, this building was used to accommodate soldiers in the past, and later it is a special mansion belonging to the Montejo family in the 1800s. The mansion is one of the rare examples made in the American continent in the Renaissance style known as the plateresque.
While this important example of civil architecture preserves the architectural traces on its exterior, it has become a building where art and architecture are reflected as a museum and exhibition space today. There are statues and busts with prominent symbolic features on the facade of the building.
9. Palacio de Gobierno del Mérida
With its history based on old royal houses, the palace was planned to be demolished and rebuilt many times before it became what it is today. The palace, which now has state government offices, was completed in 1892. Covering an area of 42 square meters, the palace is in an eclectic classical style.
This 2-storey building, decorated with portals and a beautiful stone quarry staircase, has a large courtyard. Inside the palace, there are many artworks made by famous painters and sculptures of different government eras. In addition, today, the distinctive color and arched texture of the building, which draws attention, is also remarkable that the structure is decorated with pots containing living plants.
10. Quinta Montes Molina
The structure, which has an eclectic structure with a neoclassical style, is an important representation of its period and the henequen style of the Yucatan region. Since it is a building that is always available, the building bears the traces of the periods it has gone through. Reflecting the rich and wealthy periods of Merida, this building is the only museum in the city that has remained in its original form.
When this building, which is a house museum, is examined, it gives information about the lifestyle of their families as well as the architectural reflections of the period. In addition, The Quinta Montes Molina Pavilion, completed in 2014, is located in the garden of the house and built to host social events. Pavilion also creates an artifact orchestra as a building material and a design language.
11. Palacio de la Música
This music hall, which aims to revitalize and renew the area it is located in, plays an important role in the public space of the area while emphasizing the architectural heritage structures in the surrounding. The attic of the 4-storey building functions as a terrace roof to overlook all around sights like the Cathedral, the Third Order Temple. Each floor is divided into different themes, and the street level of the interactive music exhibition is open-plan, free for pedestrians.
In addition, there is a public performance area at this level. This music palace, which has multi-purpose functions with concert halls, recording studios and a library that houses a recording collection archive, was designed with the principle of strengthening architecture and urban relations.
12. Barrio de la mejorada
In this part of the city, the place transforms into an architectural neighborhood environment with its own characteristics. Barrio de la Mejorada is an extremely rich region with parks, music school and art museums in the area. In the La Mejorada, Del Tránsito de Nuestra Señora building which is used as a church today, is the oldest building in the city, from the 17th century.
One of the two large arches found in the La Mejorada region is called the Arco de Dragones and is considered the only one of its kind in Mexico. In addition to these important structures, also a lot of museums that are the cultural and artistic heritage of the state, are located.
13. Hacienda Xcanatun
Adhering to the architectural details that characterized it during its economic growth times the Xcanatún hacienda emerged from long neglect to become an attractive hotel and restaurant. Today, as a luxury hotel, this building was one of the largest 18th-century henequen haciendas in the region.
The building, which was built for agriculture and farming, started to be used as a summer house because of the decrease in demand. Xcanatun, which was later destroyed by a storm and rebuilt after, reveals the traditional traces of the architecture and contemporary reflections of the past. Offering various opportunities to its guests today, this luxury hotel represents its culture and creates a relation with nature.
14. Passage of the Revolution
Located between the cathedral of the city and the Macay Museum, this passage is a historic pedestrian walking place. The Revolution passage, which was built in the early 1900s, had steel structure and glass roof. After a while, the glass roof was removed due to the need for high maintenance. In 2012, this Victorian-style glass roof was rebuilt to gain its originality.
The structure, which acts as a passage between architectural periods, is definitely a place to visit. The venue has hosted various exhibitions and small art events from time to time. Also, the structure is an example of how a small passage can be revived with both its atmosphere and the design.
15. School of Education of the Autonomous University of Yucatán
Built in 2015, the building completes the texture of the city and is intertwined with nature. Aiming to establish a relationship between the user and the tropical plant species. The different building forms draw attention to its different functional usage. With this form of relationship, it is aimed to increase the legibility of the building.
In addition, the school adopts a modern and sustainable approach to ventilation, insulation, and heating systems. The building, which is perceived in different forms from different angles, appears as an example of today’s architecture in Merida with the symphony created by both curved and straight shapes.