Merida is the Capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, and it’s the largest city on the Yucatan Peninsula. I spent five days there and used it as a base to explore Campeche, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Izamal.

The first thing I noticed when I got off the bus in Merida was just how hot it was. It was about 15 degrees hotter than in Cozumel (99 degrees vs. 84), where I’d spent the previous couple months. The city is only about 20 miles from Progreso and the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s far enough that the city doesn’t get any sea breezes. The second thing I noticed was that the city smelled polluted. Again, I think I was especially sensitive to the amount of car exhaust after being on a relatively sparsely populated Caribbean island for the previous couple months.

Overall, I liked Merida, but not as much as I thought I would. There are a few neat things to see in the city center, but outside of that it’s mostly just another dirty Mexican city. I saw better examples of the Spanish colonial legacy in Campeche and especially San Miguel de Allende.

I did find a great Chinese restaurant there, though.

La Iglesia de Santiago, Merida

La Iglesia de Santiago, Merida

The Merida LDS temple

The Merida LDS temple

The Cathedral of Merida, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas (completed in 1598, so it's 415 years old).

The Cathedral of Merida, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas (completed in 1598, so it’s 415 years old). To put that in perspective, that’s more than 20 years before the Mayflower reached America.

A cup of fresh mangos

One of my favorite snacks: a cup of fresh mangos

Spanish dancing in Merida's central plaza

Spanish dancing in Merida’s central plaza

Spanish dancing in Merida's central plaza

Spanish dancing in Merida’s central plaza

Another old church

Another old church

Another old church

A typical Merida street

Merida Museum of Anthropology

Merida Museum of Anthropology (a refurbished old colonial mansion)

The Palacio Municipal, originally built in 1542 and refurbished in the 1730s and 1850s

The Palacio Municipal, originally built in 1542 and refurbished in the 1730s and 1850s

Part of the facade of the Casa de Montejo

Part of the facade of the Casa de Montejo

The Yucatan State Capital Building

The Yucatan State Capital Building

Merida's main plaza, with the Merida Cathedral behind

Merida’s main plaza, with the Merida Cathedral behind