The capital of the Yucatan Peninsula burgeoned throughout the 18th and 19th centuries during the boom of the henequen industry. Today, Merida still maintains much of its architectural charm and acts as the cultural, financial and educational hub of the peninsula. Here are some interesting facts about Merida:
– Merida has a contemporary population of about 750,000.
– The word Merida comes from the Latin “Emeritus”, which originally means “veteran soldier.”
– Merida is affectionately known as “the white city”, and the reasoning behind this varies. Some claim it is due to the common color of the older city buildings, while others claim that it’s due to the cleanliness of the city.
– Merida boasts the title of safest city in Mexico, with one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
– The second oldest cathedral in the Americas has its home in Merida. The San Ildefonso Cathedral is located towards the center of town, and is a symbol of reconciliation between those of Spanish and Mayan heritage.
– The nearby Celestun Biosphere Reserve is home to one of the world’s most important Pink Flamingo colonies, with over 23,000 pink flamingos using the area as a nesting, resting, feeding and breeding site.
– Xlacah cenote, located at the Mayan site of Dzibichaltún – just north of Merida – is the closest cenote tour site operating from Merida. Meaning “old village,” it is an open ground-level cenote, making it great for swimming and cooling off after exploring the ruins.
– Mayan culture is still present in day-to-day life in Merida, with a staggering 60% of the city’s population being of Mayan ethnicity.