|Pam and David Ceklis Plaza Grande|
Merida is the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan (the state sharing its name with the peninsula of the same name). Merida's modern history begins in 1542 with three Spanish conquistadores named Francisco Montejo( father, son and nephew all sharing the same name) 'conquering' the local Mayan tribe (it wasn't much of a conquer. Mayan legend foretold of gods who were white that were larger than men. Spanish conquistadores in their silver armor and horses fit the bill, So the Mayans just handed over all they had). Merida skillfully blends the masculine Spanish style with the bold colors of Mexico, Lighting from the van, at the city's Plaza Grande, David knowing our interest in both architecture and history, lead us around the historical square. Merida's nickname Ciudad Blanca(white city) origin today is unknown as the city is a blaze of color. From the sage green and white Palace de Governale, (the seat of government for the state), the town hall and the theater (now gallery and retail space) Picheta and museum Casa de Montejo , the old buildings and especially Casa de Montejo did not disappoint.
In its glory days the home of the Montejo family dominated the square, occupying one half of the entire square. As the family dwindled so did its fortunes, and today the museum is only small part of the original home. The effect remains of stepping of the busy street and side walk into a lovely courtyard where the street sounds magically disappear. A small salon, dining room and solarium are all that are open to the public. What sets this home apart from other museums, everything is original. From the wallpaper to the furniture and décor, all belonged to family and were used in their every day life,
|Casa de Montejo|
Crossing the square we ended our visit to the historical center with the oldest building - El Cathedral de San Ilphonse , Built in the middle 1500s, you would expect the church to be dark like others of its time period. We marveled at how bright the interior was. Made out of local limestone, the interior glowed in the natural colors of white, gray and beige.
Our Merida visit ended with lunch at a restaurant that featured traditional Yucatan cuisine. Los Almendros ' menu had many delicacies , we enjoyed Salbutes (fried corn tortillas topped with lettuce, red onion and shredded turkey) Pollo Ticuleno (breaded chicken topped with ham, cheese, peas and tomato sauce on a tortilla) as well as Poc Choc, pork prepared by burying it in the ground in a clay pot, a thousand year old Mayan recipe.
|City steps of Izamal|
|Izamal's ochre colored buildings|
Returning 13 hours after our departure, we saw the last of the Mexican sun on the sand and waves. As much as I love Mexico's beaches and margaritas its history and culture are so much more. I am always glad to take at least one day away from sun and fun to find the 'real' Mexico.
|Merida archaeological museum - former Colonial home|
|Merida City Hall|
|Merida Cathedral of Ilphonse|
|Christmas tree in the Palace of Government|