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Mérida is the capital of the Yucatán Peninsula. The city was founded by the Mayan Indians and named Tiho. In 1542 it was conquered by the Spanish conquistadores who dismantled the Mayan pyramids and used the stones as foundations for the cathedral. Modern Merida is a lovely colonial centre with a mixture of old building and modern bustling city.

Merida’s culture is a distinctive blend between the ancient Maya civilization dating back to 2600 BC and customs brought by Spanish conquistadors who began colonizing Merida in the 16th Century. The city 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.

Seventy-five miles east of Merida lies the Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world by UNESCO and one of Mexico’s most impressive and visited ruins. It is believed to have been built in the early 400s AD. Home to the El Castillo pyramid, it is one of the tallest and most remarkable examples of Maya architecture for its Light and Shadow feature which takes place on the northern staircase of the pyramid during both Spring and Autumn equinox the sun projects light that appears to move up and down along the balustrade which makes the silhouette of a snake.

Merida’s local markets are a bustling place to be the Mercado Lucas De Galvez and Mercado Santiago are full of lots of locally grown fruit and vegetables. Explore the markets and taste local produce including spicy habanero peppers, chaya, rambutan or Seville oranges a staple in Yucatecan cooking.

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