Merida, a city of about 1 million people, is a wonderful mixture of a colonial city and a cosmopolitan destination. With Merida as your base, you can visit cathedrals and churches, Mayan ruins, museums, haciendas and cenotes.

The Spaniard Francisco de Montejo founded Merida on January 6, 1542. When the Spaniards arrived, Merida was a large Mayan city known as T'ho, situated on what is now the Main Plaza. It was conquered by the Spaniards, who dismantled all the pyramids and used the huge stones as the foundation for the Cathedral of San Idelfonso (1556-1599), the oldest cathedral on the American continent.

Uxmal is an archaeological zone located 49 miles south of the city of Merida, and is farther still from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. If you are interested in Mexican archaeology, we recommend staying in Merida for a few days in order to visit Uxmal, one of the most gorgeous cities of ancient Mexico.

Read a trip report about about Mérida and other spots in the Yucatan.

For more information visit our Visitor's Guide to Mexico's Riviera Maya, Costa Maya and Beyond.

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