Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan, but it is also the central urban hub for all of southeast Mexico and Belize. While Cancun is probably the most popular destination on the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is where people who live in this area come to live, shop and work. 

Merida has been called the oldest, most continually inhabited city in the Americas. It was a thriving Mayan city called T'Ho for many centuries before the Spaniards landed in the New World. However, by the time the Spaniards arrived at T'ho, the Mayan city was completely abandoned. Contrary to some accounts, the conquistadors never convinced the Mayan leaders to replace their Mayan city with the Spanish city of Merida (named after Merida in Spain) since there were no Mayans living amongst the ruined city. They did however, use many of the stones from the Mayan temples that were there to build the imposing cathedral and other buildings that now stand on and around the Plaza Grande.

People from around the world are discovering Merida in increasing numbers. Merida is a classic colonial city with a wealth of colonial buildings, a beautiful boulevard fashioned after the Champs d'Elysees in Paris, a nearby seaside retreat (Progreso), and a plethora of small colonial towns, Mayan villages and renovated haciendas dotting the countryside throughout the Peninsula.  It also happens to be a central location that allows visitors to see many Mayan temples and ruins, including the most famous, Chichen Itza, recently declared one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Merida's weather is best during the winter months, November to March. The rest of the year, the weather is hot and humid, with two rainy seasons (one in the spring and one during hurricane season in August and September). Tourist accommodations are therefore more expensive during the winter, and bargains can be found during the hotter months. 

Tips:  If you are driving in Merida, be very careful, they drive like crazy.  If you are a pedestrian they do not stop for you at crosswalks, so only cross when there are no cars.  If staying at a house in Centro Merida, they do not have central sewer system and as a result no toilet paper is allowed to be flushed down the toilet, but instead it is deposited in a waste receptable near the toilet.