The beautiful colonial city of Mérida in Yucatán state is experiencing a boom as tourists look beyond the nearby tourist centers of Cancún and Tulum. A traditional refuge of Mayan culture, the city also boasts splendid architecture and a vibrant culinary culture. It’s hot and dry for most of the year, but the wet season runs from June through October. With that in mind, it is always best to have a backup plan for those rainy days when outdoor activities are not an option. Here are five things we recommend doing on a rainy day in Mérida.
To the south of the main plaza is the elegant Casa de Montejo, a building built between 1542 and 1549 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo. The well-preserved 16th-century mansion was owned by the Montejos until 1970, and now displays the family’s renovated furniture. Bring an umbrella so you can spend some time looking at the building’s façade. The imagery offers a fascinating glimpse into the colonial mindset and the skewed logic of the conquistadores. Carved stone figures depict brave invaders battling hordes of barbarians.
Mérida is famed for its troubadour music, or trova, which has roots in Cuban and Colombian traditions. El Museo de la Canción Yucateca offers a fascinating glimpse into this aspect of the local culture. Here, you’ll find guitars and other items that once belonged to the region’s greatest trova artists. Outside is a statue of Ricardo Palmerín, the musician who composed one of the most iconic trova songs, “La Peregrina” (“the pilgrim”) in 1923.
Mérida’s most famous museum, the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, is home to a spectacular collection of Mayan relics, art, and jewelry. Opened in 2012, the museum offers exhibits that begin by documenting the present day, and travel all the way back to the meteorite that struck more than 65 million years ago and may have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs. The building’s architecture is also spectacular: the green and grey structure mimics the form of a ceiba, the sacred tree that the Mayans believed connected the earth with the heavens and the underworld.
A rainy day is the perfect excuse to spend the day enjoying Mérida’s legendary cuisine. Just off the Parque Santa Lucía, La Chaya Maya is an excellent and inexpensive eatery located in a beautiful colonial building. Named after the tree spinach that is frequently used in the region’s cuisine, the warm and welcoming restaurant boasts an impressive menu. We highly recommend the cochinita pibil, a traditional dish consisting of pork marinated in orange juice and ground achiote seeds.
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