Mexico/Yucatan: Merida

Merida is the largest city and the capital of Yucatán with nearly 800k population. It was founded by the Spanish conquistadors n 1542 and named Merida for the Spanish city. Before Merida, this was a major Mayan site of Tho, full of pyramids, that were mostly demolished by the Spanish for their perfect grid and plaza layout. Much of the old colonial architecture remains fully intact. Plaza Mayor is in the very heart of the city with the Catedral and Palacio de Gobierno on two sides and the Casa Montejo on the opposite side. The 1561 Merida Cathedral is actually the largest cathedral in Yucatan and has a rich interior full of Mayan and Spanish colonial relics, paintings, and sculptures. Casa Montejo is a private residence of the rich Montejo family, built in 1549, super lavish and ornate. Just a block away is the Parque Hidalgo with the Church of Jesus. The city is a delight and easy to explore and the place to stay is the Gran Hotel de Merida – a spectacular historic building, less then a block away from the Plaza Mayor, with massive interior open space, old colonial furniture and decor.