The Yucatan Peninsula is a vast coastal region filled with tropical beaches, spectacular wildlife, ancient Mayan ruins, picturesque villages, and amazing outdoor adventure activities. You also cannot miss Mérida, the cultural heart and soul of the Yucatan. A city with a rich history of the Maya, Spanish conquistadors and an amazing culture, translated into one of Mexico´s most incredible gastronomy.
Here are five awesome things to do in Yucatan on Sunday.
5. Visit Uayma.
The church of Uayma is one of the architectural icons of the Yucatan. The temple dates from the mid-seventeenth century and is located 13 km west of the Yucatan’s Magic Town of Valladolid. The church was part of the ex-convent of Santo Domingo. The convent complex was burned and almost destroyed by the Mayans in 1855 during the “Guerra de Castas or “The Caste War of Yucatán” and it was not until 2003 that the original colors and decoration on the façade and walls of the temple were rediscovered.
The construction was erected with stones taken from nearby archaeological sites and the unique ornamentation was made with stars, rosettes, borders and other details, in which the color red and to a lesser extent blue predominate.
Uayma also stands out for its pottery and hammock making. The festival of Santo Domingo, with heifers, music, popular dances, cowboys and fireworks, is celebrated between the end of July and the beginning of August.
4. Visit Izamal
Also known as the “town painted in yellow” Izamal has a lots to do and see, starting with the ex-convent of San Antonio de Padua where the Virgin of Izamal, patron saint of Yucatan, is venerated. It stands out as an architectural and religious jewel of this magical town.
The convent was erected on the pyramid of Pap Hol Chac during the first century of the Spanish conquest and its esplanade is so large that it is only surpassed among the Catholic buildings in the world, by that of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. In Izamal, pre-Hispanic, viceroyalty and contemporary buildings coexist in harmony, which is why it is called the “City of Three Cultures”.
The activity of henequen or sisal, was the economic sustenance of the Yucatan in past times, but declined with the development of synthetic fibers, is still alive in some of Izamal’s haciendas.
3. Take a tour of the Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve
It is a mangrove-rich estuary that runs parallel to the Yucatan coast near the town of Celestun, near the state of Campeche. Its main attraction is its biodiversity, especially the beautiful Mexican flamingo that has one of its main sanctuaries in this estuary.
The intense pink-orange color of these birds in the reserve is due to the high concentration of carotenes in the waters, which are of a particular composition because of the mixture of the Celestún River’s fresh current with the waters of the gulf. Other typical species of the reserve are the brown pelican and the white pelican. The estuary is reached by a bridge that connects it with the mainland and ecological tourists tour it by boat.
2. Go to the beach
Yucatan has warm water beaches and bright sunshine to enjoy the best tropical drinks and the most exquisite seafood. The closest to Merida are Progreso, Chicxulub and Chelem. In Progreso you will find a beautiful and quiet coastal city 44 km away from the city with a malecon -boardwalk- full of life and gastronomy, a beach with wide, white sands and leisure activities.
It is worth mentioning the town of San Crisanto, 78 km from Merida, with a beautiful white sand beach and interesting places for ecotourism, such as mangroves and the “Cenote Bravo”.
1. Walk around the city of Merida
The city of Merida has so many attractions that one could list only the city itself. Here are a few ideas:
Mérida en domingo – Every Sunday since the 80’s, the Historical Center of Mérida closes its streets to vehicular traffic and is transformed into a wide urban kermesse, with a great offer of activities, food and drinks. During this day, the streets are covered with vendors selling authentic Yucatecan handicrafts, antique books and other curiosities, recreational and educational activities for children are also offered, as well as folkloric shows such as the popular traditional “Vaquería” and the beautiful “Boda Mestiza”.
The San Idelfonso Cathedral – The Yucatan Cathedral dedicated to San Ildefonso is the second oldest in all America, only surpassed on the continent by that of Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola.
The temple was built between 1562 and 1598. Its magnificent collection of sacred art and the Walcker organ were destroyed during the Mexican Revolution. It consists of 3 naves, one main and 2 lateral; 2 twin towers of 2 bodies and Moorish style and a dome with botarel arches.
In the main facade of Renaissance style they emphasize the “Door of Pardon” and the shield of the Spanish royal house. In the austere interior we can see the image of the Christ of the Unity, the biggest one in wood preserved in a roofed enclosure and some baroque altarpieces.
Other venerated images of the Cathedral of San Ildefonso are the Cristo de las Ampollas and the Santa Eulalia.
The Natural History Museum – The Natural History Museum opened its doors in 1987 on 59th Street in Merida, next to the Parque del Centenario -the Centennial Zoo-.
In its 7 permanent rooms, it hosts exhibitions on natural, regional and general history.
The rooms are: The Universe, The Paleozoic Era, The Mesozoic Era, The Cenozoic Era, Cuxtal Ecological Reserve, Audiovisual Room, Alacranes Reef.
The museum also has a room for temporary exhibitions on topics related to natural history and environmental preservation.
The Yucatan Times