Merida, the historic capital of the Yucatan was 470 years old on January 6! On this day in 1542, Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo y Leon the Younger “El Mozo,” founded his new city amidst the ruins of a much earlier Mayan capital called T’Ho. He called it “Merida” because the white limestone he saw around him reminded him of the city of Merida in his homeland, and to this day, it is affectionately known as “la Ciudad Blanca” or the white city.
The anniversary festivities last the whole month with the Merida City Festival, January 5 – 30. This popular event features more than 200 events ranging from concerts, plays and ballet and dance performances to street performances, art shows, cinema, historical exhibitions and literary workshops. Performers hail from the Yucatan, different parts of Mexico and other countries, including Spain and Cuba. On Saturday, January 28, the National Poetry Prize Merida 2012 will be awarded at the Olimpo Cultural Center in the main square.
This year holds particular significance in the Yucatan as one cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar draws to a close on December 21 and a new one begins and many of the festival events showcase the Mayan culture this time. The 2012 festival program is available on www.merida.gob.mx/festival/index.html
Whatever the season, the Merida cultural scene is thriving and there are concerts, theatrical productions and art exhibitions during the year. The city is home to the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra and the 2012 season begins on January 20 – June 26, to see the concert program visit: www.sinfonicadeyucatan.com.mx/temporada/temporadactual.html.
If you are planning a trip to Merida don’t miss the concerts, folk ballets and gala events staged during the week. For a listing of weekly events visit Merida Celebrates its 470th Anniversary and for more information about sites of interest in the city read Mérida on the Royal Resorts blog. Thomas More Travel offers day and overnight trips to Merida and can assist with vacation planning if you would like to stay longer.