Home LifestyleExpat Community How to access the secret tunnels in Downtown Mérida?

How to access the secret tunnels in Downtown Mérida?

by Sofia Navarro
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In the Historic Center of Mérida, there are hidden stories and secret places that are not visible to everyone, and around which legends and tales have been created, such as the case of the tunnels or hidden passageways in the heart of the city.

These are underground communication systems that connected main buildings and churches in the downtown area. They were constructed during the period following the viceregal era and were mainly utilized by the ancient Mayan inhabitants of the region.

Other accounts suggest that the underground passages were built so that cloistered nuns could remain isolated from the outside world. It was also said that one of the passages went from the Church of Monjas (64th Street by 63rd Street) to the Cathedral and connected to the Convent of San Francisco el Grande.

However, despite the prevalence of these myths in people’s minds, archaeological data contradicts these stories. As anthropologist and archaeologist Sergio Grosjean puts it, the popular belief does not make it true.

The entrance to this underground stretch is located beneath the parking lot of the famous Casa de Cárdenas or Casa de los Ladrillos, where Plaza Diamante now stands (62nd Street by 65th Street), behind what used to be the Yanal Luum bar (underground). This has fueled the belief in the existence of an imaginary line connecting Monjas and the Cathedral.

“These ideas could not withstand the force of evidence since no supposed underground passage was found when excavation work was carried out to install water pipes for the potable water service,” assures Grosjean.

For 10 years, until before the COVID-19 pandemic, this place was open to the public, offering a historical-theatrical tour by the group ‘Noche de Leyendas.’ However, currently, visitors no longer have access to it.

Another myth related to these tunnels tells of one that stretches for nearly 100 kilometers, connecting the Convent of San Miguel Arcángel in Maní to the Church of Monjas in Mérida.

In 1982, an exploration was conducted in that narrow passageway, but it was not possible to proceed as it was filled with debris. When the local residents were asked, they claimed that it was sealed off to prevent children from playing inside and getting lost.

Many feared that children would get lost along that long path leading to the capital city of Yucatán. However, the real existence of this tunnel was never proven.

Regarding the origin and nature of these secret passageways in Mérida, some hypotheses suggest that they served as storage for food, liquors, and various belongings of the city’s ancient inhabitants. Over time, they were abandoned and even served as drainage for wastewater.

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