10 Fun Facts About Mérida, Mexico for Kids

Mérida is the capital of the state of Yucatán. This vibrant Mexican city is steeped in Mayan heritage and Spanish colonial influence. My daughter and I love wandering around the historic center and admiring its colorful buildings. Let’s take a fun-facts trip to discover Mérida’s history and culture!

This post is part of the MKB Fun Facts Series.

10 Fun Facts About Mérida, Mexico for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1. Mérida was the first Capital of Culture

In 2000, Mérida was the first to be recognized as an American Capital of Culture. Then, a few years later, in 2017, it received this title again, making it the only city to date that has received it twice! Founded in 1998, The American Capital of Culture organization raises cultural awareness in the Americas and promotes selected cities.

2. White chairs are all over the city

Locals have several nicknames for the famous white chairs found in parks all over Mérida. These unusual seats face in opposite directions. Armrests connect the chairs in the middle. This allows two people to sit and face one another while they chat. This is why you might hear them referred to as “you and me” chairs (las sillas “tú y yo” in Spanish), confidant chairs, or lovers chairs.

3. Mérida was built on ancient ruins

The land where the city resides was once the ancient Mayan city of T’Hó. Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo “el Mozo” conquered the city in 1542. He named it Mérida after a city in Spain of the same name.

4. The Mérida Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas

In the late 16th century, Mayan laborers built the Mérida Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of San Ildefonso. They used stones from the Mayan temple of Yajam Cumu. It was completed in 1598. It is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is the oldest.

5. Yucatán has the most Mayan speakers of any Mexican state

Yucatec Maya speakers refer to the language as “Maya.” Approximately 1 in 4 people speak Maya in the state of Yucatán. While “Maya” is used by many in this state, there are thirty Mayan languages in the Mayan language family. For this reason, you can find this language spoken in the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. And since many tourists come through that do not speak Maya, the city has posted signs written in Spanish, English, and Maya. This gives access to information to all the visitors.

6. Mérida is nicknamed the White City

“Ciudad Blanca” means “White City.” There are several theories as to why it has this nickname. The predominant theory is that “White City” refers to the white limestone used to construct many of the buildings. Others also attribute the nickname to the city’s cleanliness, safety, and the traditional white clothing many locals wear.

7. Mérida is part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network

UNESCO Creative Cities Network recognizes Mérida as a Creative City of Gastronomy. The cuisine of Yucatán is unlike any other in the country. Got a sweet tooth? Try a marquesita! Street vendors sprinkle Edam cheese on this crepe-like dessert and top it off with a filling of your choice. Options typically include chocolate, jam, cajeta, and condensed milk. They roll it up like a taco. It’s piping hot!

8. The Yucatán Peninsula has approximately 10,000 cenotes

There are an estimated 10,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula. These natural, underground sinkholes are filled with water and perfect for swimming! Many of them are a short drive from Mérida, which makes for a perfect day trip with the family. As a bonus, you’ll get a chance to cool off from the intense Mérida heat.

9. Mérida was once one of the world’s richest cities

Mérida became a wealthy city due to its role in the henequen industry. The henequen plant makes a fiber used for rope and twine. Its production was a major industrial activity in Yucatán up until the mid-20th century. Although the henequen business has declined over the years, you will still find henequen products sold around Mérida, such as hammocks, shoes, and bags.

10. Mérida is more north of the equator than Mexico City

You might be surprised by the location of Mérida on the map. It is situated in southeastern Mexico. This fact might make it seem like it would be further south than most other major Mexican cities. However, this city sits in the curve of the Yucatán peninsula, which actually means that Mérida is located slightly further north of the equator than Mexico City.

Thanks for joining me for these fun facts about Mérida! I hope you get a chance to visit this incredible city.

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Lidia is a travel writer from Dallas, Texas. She loves exploring new countries, taking long road trips around the USA, and spending quality time with her daughter. She vlogs her travel adventures on her YouTube channel, Lidia Explores.

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