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-Independence Plaza or Plaza Grande: it was designed by the Spaniards, who named it Major Plaza, and since then it became the neuralgic point of the city, in so much that life, with its joys, sorrows and injustices, seemed to spin around it, being the scenario of festive events, such as the carnivals, rash, like the bullfights, and cruel when the rebel natives were physically punished in here.
The plaza was baptised with the name of Independence when the colonial period came to an end, in accordance to the new winds blowing in Mexico; what did not change and may never will, is its condition as centre of the city. Nowadays it is a welcoming place with extensive gardens where you can enjoy the shade of the imposing laurels.

-Cathedral of San Idelfonso: it is the oldest in Mexico and it may have been built over an ancient Mayan temple. Its construction began in 1561 as an initiative of Bishop Fray Diego Toral, and it is believed that the stones used in its construction were extracted from the pre Hispanic building.
The Cathedral, of plateresque style and finished by master builder Juan Miguel Agüero in 1598, stands out for the renaissance influence of its façade, which has three accesses with half-point arches, two belfries of three bodies, and a choir window with an eagle standing on a nopal tree (Opuntia ficus indica) over it.
Its interior presents a huge nave with Toscana columns, altarpieces of neoclassical style and several chapels, with that of The Christ of the Blisters, an image carved in a tree trunk that, according to a legend well spread across Mexico, burnt an entire night without suffering any damage.
The Cathedral of San Idelfonso is located on the western side of the main plaza, on the corner of 60th and 61st Streets.

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  • -Church of the Third Order: it is a Catholic temple but it is believed that its two belfries provided with rectangular roof tiles and with a spiral shape, may represent Kukulkán or the feathered serpent, a god worshipped by the Mayas. Perhaps it was a surreptitious vindication to the ancient deities that the Spanish priests did not object, or maybe they simply did not notice it.
    Known by the name of Church of Jesus, this Jesuit temple was built in the XVII century. Its façade shows a profusion of decorations with vegetal figures, whilst its interior enthrals for its notable murals of biblical scenes, and a panoramic fresco representing the formal visit Mayan chief Tutul Xiu paid conquistador Montejo. It is located on the corner of 60th with 59th Streets.

    -Palace of Government: it was built, destroyed and built again; although with aesthetical changes and different architectonic features; such is the governmental seat of the State of Yucatan, located on the northern side of Independence Plaza.
    The original building, seat of the Royal Houses of Government, was destroyed in 1883. The construction of the new installation would begin years later, and the works ended in 1892, with the neoclassical style being predominant on its lines.
    The current palace is one of the most modern buildings in the city. Its portals, its superb stairs of stone and a replica of the bell of Dolores, stand out. Besides, colourful murals and valuable canvases that depict the history of Yucatan, realised by renowned Mexican painter Fernando Castro Pacheco, can be admired in its interior.

    -Municipal Palace: it has suffered numerous architectonic modifications along its extremely long history, and as a consequence of this its façade displays an eclectic style, where you can sort out Moorish characteristics with others of art deco.
    According to some historians, it was in this palace, seat of the town council and jail during the colony, where the independence of Yucatan was decided. It is currently the seat of the Municipal Presidency and of the Town Council. It is located on the western side of the central plaza, on the corner of 62nd and 61st Streets.

    -City Museum: it sums up the history of the State of Yucatan and its capital, Mérida, from the first pre Hispanic vestiges up to the boom of the henequen (a vegetal fibre used in the fabrication of cords and ropes), going through the colonial era, the struggle for independence and the disturbance caused by the Mexican revolution.
    There are Mayan vessels with zoomorphic drawings on exhibition from the period prior to the independence, along with colonial altarpieces, and an interesting variety of weapons that were used during the War of the Castes, a bloody conflict that confronted the natives with the Spaniards due to the abysmal inequalities existing between them. The historical photos unveiling the development of Mérida are also of much interest.
    The museum has its seat in the former Church of San Juan de Dios, a temple of plateresque style built in the XVII century. It is located adjacent to the Cathedral of San Idelfonso, on the corner of 61st and 58th Streets.

    -House of Montejo: it is the most notable sample of civil architecture of plateresque style in Mérida. It was built between 1543 and 1549 and belonged to the founder of the city, Francisco de Montejo y Leon, called "The Young". The residence remained in the hands of the descendants of the famous Spaniard until 1980; it is currently property of the Commercial Bank.
    Its admirable façade and its superb doorway made of stone with two wide Corinthian columns, subsist from its original architecture; and the entire construction shows a strong indigenous influence.
    The image of two conquistadors stepping on the head of a native, which demonstrates the cruelty of the Spanish conquest, impresses on the inside of this magnificent big house located on the corner of 63rd and 60th Streets.

    -Museum of Contemporary Art Athenaeum of Yucatan (MACAY): paintings, sculptures and photographs, amongst other cultural expressions of our times are exhibited in its rooms, which are adorned with the samples of creativity of Yucatan's artists.
    The museum, inaugurated on April the 29th of 1994, hosts temporary and permanent exhibitions. Before becoming a cultural bastion, this building of the XVII century was the seat of the Episcopal Palace until 1916, year in which General Salvador Alvarado ordered the demolition of a section to build a pedestrian walk, and its remaining installations were turned into offices and commercial establishments.
    It was later seat of a military garrison until 1983. Its simple colonial façade acquired French features during all these processes. It is located beside the Cathedral and has an area of 3500 square metres.

    -Montejo Drive: it is an ample avenue that cuts the original layout of the city and that, ironically enough, carries the name of its founder, Francisco de Montejo y Leon. It was inaugurated in 1904 and due to its great extension, it is ideal for riding on a coach whilst admiring the lavish palaces that belonged to the tycoons of the henequen, during the early XX century.
    The magnificent mansions still standing are currently surrounded by banks, hotels and travel agencies, amongst other commercial establishments, which provide it with an agitated and restless atmosphere, especially during the nights, when bohemia extends its amusing mantle.

    -Regional Museum of Anthropology and History (Canton Palace): its 14 rooms allow discovering the vestiges and advancements attained by the ancient peoples that inhabited this part of Mexico, before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
    The prehistoric vestiges of the Loltún Cavern and the stone sculptures of Mayan origins (some coming from Chichén Itzá), stand out amongst the archaeological objects that can be appreciated; besides codices, ceramics and other objects that prove the development they reached in astronomy, to cite an example. It also has a library specialised on anthropology.
    The seat of the museum is an old palace surviving from the time of the henequen bonanza. Its owner was General Francisco Canton, governor of the state, who invested a fortune importing the materials and equipment used in building his sumptuous dwelling from the main European cities, an architectonic boast that become real between 1904 and 1911.
    Years later the once powerful family would fall in disgrace and one of the general's descendants had to hand the property to the state in 1932, which in turn signed an agreement in 1966 with the National Institute of Anthropology and History, an initial step for the foundation of the museum.
    The palace reflects a mannerist baroque style, which was predominant during the late XIX and early XX centuries. It is located on the corner of Montejo Drive and 43rd Street.

    -Monument to the Nation: it is one of the first creations inspired on the sense of Mexican nationality. This artwork chiselled in stone by Colombian artist Romulo Rozo represents the Lake Texcoco, as a symbol of eternal harmony and tradition.
    The monument has 31 columns that represent Mexico's 28 states, two territories and the Federal District, and it makes an allegorical review of the historical periods of the country, such as the colony, the independence, the reform and the revolution.
    It is situated between Montejo Drive and Campo Deportivo Avenue.

    -Museum of Popular Arts: the strong Mayan roots of the natives of Yucatan are evident in their notable handiwork creations are exhibited in this museum, which has in addition a collection of objects manufactured in the different regions of the country.
    Besides, this precinct, in which creativity is honoured, has an attractive shop where you can purchase blouses with exquisite embroideries and ceramics, amongst other objects. It is located on the corner of 59th and 50th Streets, adjacent to the Church of Mejorada.

    -Jose Peon Contreras Theatre: it is an elegant construction of French neoclassical style. Its splendid vestibule and its imposing flight of stairs, made of marble of Carrara, can be admired in its interior.
    It was inaugurated in 1908 and bears the name of author, doctor and politician Jose Peon Contreras (1843 - 1907). It is currently one of the main centres for the diffusion of culture in Mérida. It is located on the corner of 60th and 57th Streets.

    -Hermitage of Santa Isabel: although the exact date of its construction is unknown, it is believed to have been in the XVII century, commissioned by Gaspar Gonzales de Ledesma, on the straight section of the old royal road of Campeche.
    In old times it was known as Our Lady of the Good Journey, due to the many wanderers who stopped before it to pray and ask for protection during their tours along the dusty and risky paths.
    Its façade is pretty simple and has a bell gable of three arches, whilst there is a botanic garden and an artificial cascade on the inside. It is located on the western side of the city, on 66th South Street.

    -Park of the Centenary: it has an attractive zoo that houses an interesting variety of flora and fauna species, some of them in a threatened situation. An aged tree planted in 1910, year in which the park was inaugurated, stands out in this place that offers visitors tables and parlour games.
    It is located on Itzáes Avenue, between 59th, 84th and 65th Streets, in the southern sector of the city.

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