Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

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When I arrived in Mérida, the first thing I wanted to do was to get a lay of the land.  As you know, when you are visiting a city for the first time, it can be a challenging task.  Now that I live here and spend my days exploring this wonderful city, I wanted to write this article to help you understand the neighborhoods in Mérida.

PLEASE NOTE:  With the currect COVID situation, many activities listed here have been postponed. 

Want to know The Best Neighborhoods in Mérida?

High quality of life, low cost of living, wonderful tropical climate, and one of the safest places to visit and live in Mexico. Community activities help keep people connected to their heritage and to each other. These are the foundational values of the Mexican culture.

Who wouldn’t love Mérida?

Without a doubt, one of the most enchanting things about this magical city is the neighborhoods. Each with their own unique personality and feeling, the neighborhoods called Colonias have a distinct flavor and flair.

Keep reading, and you’ll find everything you need to know about neighborhoods in Mérida.

The City Of Mérida Is Laid Out On A Grid System 

I know the feeling . . .

It seems hard to understand the layout of Mérida.

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Mérida occurs in a grid with mostly numbered streets.
  2. Larger through streets have names such as Ave. Cupules, Ave. Itzaes or Ave. Colon.
  3. The main boulevard in the center of the city, running north and south, is the Paseo de Montejo.
  4. The Periferico is the loop around the city.

Study a map of Mérida to gain an understanding of both the layout of the city and the location of the older colonias, the neighborhoods, and newer fraccionamientos or subdivisions.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Colonias Of Mérida

The older neighborhoods of Mérida are Colonias

In the older neighborhoods of Mérida, there is a church and a park traditionally anchored the Colonia. The hub for all the activities, celebrations, and gatherings, the Colonia, church, and park, usually share the same name. When you get your bearings, begin looking at the street signs to recognize the Colonia you are in.

The newer neighborhoods of Mérida are Fraccionamientos

The literal translation of Fraccionamiento is a division or housing development. In the U.S., we would call this a subdivision, whereas, in Mérida, it is a middle-class area. These are considered the newer neighborhoods of Mérida.

As you leave Centro, notice how the neighborhood changes the further north you travel.

The Historic Heart Of Mérida – Plaza Grande

The Best Neighborhoods in Mérida start at the center of the city called “The Downtown” with the Plaza Grande. This historic city center features an elegant park and a breathtaking church: the Catedral de San Ildefonso. The zocalo (buildings surrounding the plaza) include the Catedral, Governor’s Palace, Casa Montejo, MACAY Museum, Olimpo (a cultural center), and Ayuntamiento (City Hall).

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

And guess what else?

This is also a beautiful place to experience the heart of Mérida where you can:

  • Meet in the lovely park
  • Get your shoes shined
  • Buy and sell all kinds of items
  • Read the paper
  • Sing and dance
  • Feed the pigeons
  • Just sit and relax

There are also newsstands, coffee shops, restaurants, and various retail establishments.

Activities at Plaza Grande

Pok Ta Pok Mayan Ball Game – Catedral de San Ildefonso
Every Saturday 8:30 pm
A kind of Maya football, Pok To Pok, was played with great ceremony for centuries and is steeped in mysticism.

Mérida en Domingo – Between the Plaza Grande and Parque Santa Lucia – Calle 60
Every Sunday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
A modern and urban carnival with food stalls, craft vendors, artists, and folkloric dance performances.

Vaquería Night: Dancing – Palacio Municipal
Every Monday 9:00 pm

This colorful dance originated in the colonial days of the Yucatán when villagers were permitted by the Spanish elite to celebrate. Wives of the local cowboys called vaqueros were in charge of organizing the festivities of this annual event. The women wore their most elaborate dresses to leading their husbands in the dance.


Vivid Video Mapping Projections – Casa de Montejo (facing the south side of the Plaza Grande)
Every Wednesday 8:30 pm
Topic:  Encuentro con Francisco de Montejo – Diálogos del Conquistador (Meeting with Francisco de Montejo – Conqueror Dialogues)
Vivid video mapping projections are high-tech, light-and-sound shows depicting the region’s history and culture. These highly artistic projections wrap around the architectural details of two of Mérida’s most treasured façades.

Vivid Video Mapping Projections – San Ildefonso Cathedral (facing the east side of the Plaza Grande)
Every Friday 8:30 pm
Topic:  Piedras Sagradas (Sacred Stones)


Walking Tour of the Historical Center – Tourism Office
Weekdays 9:30 am on a weekday
English and Spanish Tours leave from the Tourism Office of the Municipal Building on Calle 62 between 61 and 63.

Visit the churches in each neighborhood to find more event postings on their bulletin boards.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Mérida And The Paseo de Montejo, The Champs-Élysées Of Mérida

Named after Francisco de Montejo, the Spanish conquistador founded the city in 1542, the Paseo de Montejo is the main boulevard running north and south.

Similar to the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the Paseo de Montejo is the avenue for some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings and monuments in Mérida.

The southernmost street is Calle 47 and runs parallel to Calles 56 and 58. The Paseo continues north to the Monumento a la Patria at Calle 27A. As the city expanded north, so did Paseo de Montejo. Past the Monumento, the Paseo called Prolongation Paseo de Montejo meaning the extension of the Paseo. The Prolongation continues until it connects in the north with Federal Highway 261.

Once you find your orientation with the Paseo de Montejo, that’s when you know you are ready to discover more about the neighborhoods.

Activities on the Paseo de Montejo

Noches Mexicanas – Calle 56A
Every Saturday 9:00 pm – 11:30pm
Artisan vendors, local food, music, dancing, and entertainment.

Mérida BiciRuta 
Every Sunday 8:00 am – 12:30 pm
The street is closed off for biking, walking and community connection
Rent a bike at Bici Mérida Calle 56 495B on Paseo de Montejo.

Artists on the Paseo
Every Sunday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
On the east side of the Paseo de Montejo, artists set up their offerings.

Mérida Nighttime BiciRuta
First Saturday of every month (except December) 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
From Calle 47 to the Monumento a la Patria

Most Popular Colonias Of Centro

In the neighborhood of Mérida, the city center is Centro, where the action happens!

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

You’d have to say with the number of restaurants, shopping, and establishments, and activity is non-stop. Gorgeous colonial-style homes, favored by ex-pats, are remodeled, in-process of constructions, or are for sale here.

Chances are you will hear these names:

  • Santa Lucia
  • Santa Ana
  • Santiago
  • San Juan
  • San Sebastia
  • Ermita or La Ermita
  • Mejorada
  • San Cristobal
  • Garcia Gineres
  • Centenario

Other Colonias on the outskirts of Centro and worth checking out:

  • Itzimna
  • Aleman or Miguel Aleman
  • Jesus Carranza
  • Chem Bech
  • Chuburná
  • Chuminopolis
  • La Plancha

These are just a few of the numerous Colonias where you will see locals, expats, and tourists walking around at all times of the day and night.

The Best Neighborhoods in Mérida, Mexico

The closest Colonia to the Plaza Grande, Santa Lucia, plays an important role in the history of Mérida. Locals and visitors alike watch beautiful dancers, learn about Yucatecan history, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Dedicated to General Sebastián Molas, the obelisk was constructed with a broken tip as a way to symbolize his short life. Built-in 1878, its original marker read (English translation), “Here lie the remains of Colonel Sebastián Molas, Hero of the Caste War.”

Santa Lucia Activities:
Yucatecan Serenade
Every Thursday 9:00 pm
Since 1965, an open-air event with live music, local history; exhibiting traditional costumes and dancing.

Local Vendor Market
Every Sunday 11:00 am
A lively market with food vendors, traditional clothing, hammocks, jewelry, and a variety of other handmade items.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Santa Ana Park and Church – Calle 60 y Calle 45

Santa Ana church is easily identified by the pyramidal spires as well as the raised platform foundation,  most likely a former Maya temple platform. The belief is that Santa Ana was the city’s farm where plantations grew food for the city.

Imagine this . . .

In the 1700s, it served the northernmost barrio of colonial Mérida with a large population of indigenous Mayans and mulattos.

Several galleries and museums are located in this established and growing art district. Santa Ana also has a lovely small market with vendor stalls, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

A popular group of cocina economics (small local kitchens) all serve traditional Yucatecan foods and fresh juices.


Just one block to the south, you will find more restaurants and tourist shops along Calle 47, which connects to the Paseo de Montejo.


Santa Ana Activities:
Vendors set up here frequently – seems to be more of a “pop-up” style market sometimes with no rhyme or reason to the days/times. These vendors set up on evenings and weekends as well as other days of the week. Santa Ana Park is a gorgeous place to visit during Christmas. Fairy lights form a canopy in the plaza over the park’s central area. It is quite magical to visit during the holidays.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Santiago Park and Church – Calle 72 y Calle 59

Another of the oldest Colonias in Mérida, the church of Santiago, was founded in 1637. Little remains of the original structure other than a modest sanctuary with a baroque statue of Santiago and a dated inscription at the entry.

Check this out . . .

Approximately 350-400 years ago, Santiago was the area relegated to the indigenous Indios and artisans. Later it was the German district. Before Paseo de Montejo was built around the turn of the century, Santiago was considered the nicest place to live in Mérida.

Calle 59 was the main formal entrance into Mérida after Porfirio Diaz built the Centenario Zoo and Parque de La Paz. The Santiago Market is one of the best in Mérida with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, flowers, fresh juices (made on the spot), and a meat market.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

A host of excellent cocina economics, clothing, sundries, and even an ice cream shop is found here. The center of the park has a beautiful water fountain with many trees where you will find people relaxing in the shade.

Santiago Activities:
Remembranzas Musicales
Every Tuesday 8:30 pm
This event brings residents and tourists together to dance the cha-cha, the mambo, salsa, and other Latin dances to live, Big Band music under the stars.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Juan Park and Church – Calle 69 y 62

Located just four blocks south of the Plaza Grande, the church of San Juan is my favorite in Mérida. This church dating back to 1770, is breathtaking with its magnificent yellow color, architectural details, and magnificent presence in the park.


The San Juan arch marks the most significant gate to the city. It was rebuilt in 1790 during the government of Lucas de Gálvez y Montes de Oca.


Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Remember the large shopping market, Lucas de Gálvez? Yes, it’s the same dynamic don.

The text on the plaque of the arch states, “The Year 1790. Owing to the personal intervention, zeal, and prudent policy of the Governor Captain General of this Province, the lord don Lucas de Gálvez was able to inspire the generous stimulus of the Pueblo, lovers of the common benefits of liberty, in whose name were provided the funds for the opening and construction.”

There is a garden and fountain in the park adorned by a bronze statue, known as the “Little Black Girl of San Juan.” During this time, lantern bearers were entrusted with keeping the peace and would announce, “It’s twelve o’clock, and all is serene.” (I just ADORE all these little bits of history!)

In 1810, the chaplain of the church don Vicente María Velásquex y Alvarado was the spirit of the “San Juanistas” and is attributed to the first movements for Independence.

San Juan Activities:
Paseo de las Ánimas
Annually – last week in October
The Paseo de las Ánimas is part of the Dia de Muertos celebrations. People meet in the General Graveyard (Calle 81A x 90, Centro) and join in a type of parade as they walk to San Juan Park. Everyone dresses in Yucatecan traditional clothes with painted skulls on their faces. Upon arrival at the park, enjoy traditional snacks and sweets sold by vendors, and watch cultural shows and presentations.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Sebastian Park and Church – Calle 75 y 72

In colonial times, San Sebastian was part of an area given by the senior Francisco de Montejo to his son. Wanting large estates to be built, he removed Indigenous Mayas from outlying and relocated them into the area now known as San Sebastian.

For hundreds of years, this was the area where the disenfranchised local Mayans and lower class immigrants lived “passing their days outside the city walls, living in homes of stone and straw, or in the dark and dusty streets and plazas.”

Get this . . .

In the early 20th Century, San Sebastian was a dangerous area known as Barrio Bravo, where young men fought amongst themselves and other barrios.

For what it’s worth, rumor says the metal fence surrounding the courtyard of the government offices on Calle 75 was built with the muzzles of rifles repurposed after the Mexican Revolution.

A wonderful food market with fruit and vegetable stalls, butchers and cocina economicas are on both sides of Calle 70. You can dine on Yucatecan food under the stars! These particular restaurants are very popular with locals and are quite busy on weekend nights.

San Sebastian Activities:
Invocation of Our Lady of the Assumption
Annually August 3 to 15
Enjoy San Sebastian’s famous fería, complete with voladores (homemade bottle rockets), papier maché bulls, and music.

San Sebastian is known for its fairs. Throughout much of the year, booths with penny arcades are ready around the park, sometimes with Ferris-wheels and merry-go-rounds.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

La Ermita de Santa Isabel Park and Church – Calle 66 y 77

The names La Ermita or Ermita and San Sebastian are interchangeable. You may hear San Sebastian and Ermita referred to like the same area; however, they both have their unique personalities.

Dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje or Our Lady of the Good Journey, the Ermita Church was originally built in the 1700s as a wayfarer’s shrine.

Our Lady of the Good Journey is Mérida ‘s equivalent of Saint Christopher.

This was the last place to say your prayers before you set out to Campeche, a dangerous trip west.

There is a notion that the garden has ghosts as well as dotted with signs describing Maya and colonial sculptures no longer present.

For access to the garden, leave the church and go to the right-hand side.

  • Look for a door.
  • Give it a knock.
  • Gain entry.

There is a small, interesting, beautiful patio, a garden of medicinal and ornamental plants and trees along with with with a variety of flowers, ferns, and shrubs; all native Yucatecan species. Entry is free, and there should always be someone available to open the door.

The park in front of Ermita’s church was also renovated a few years ago with a new playground, Wi-Fi connections, and computer docking stations. The streets around Ermita have been reset and repaved with the original bricks.

Ermita Activities:
Mostly centered around local celebrations and events.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Mejorada Park and Church – Calle 50 y 57

The very first hospital in Mérida was built in Mejorada in 1562. Between 1688-1694, the Franciscans in Mérida built two sets of churches and convents. One disappeared, and the other called “Del Transit of Our Lady” or La Mejorada

This building had many different uses before becoming home to the Faculty of Architecture UADY. This building adjoins another important Franciscan colonial building, the Dragon Cavalry, the former headquarters of the military garrison of Mérida.

In this tranquil park, look for a large, bronze sculpture commemorating the Niños Heroes de Chapultepec. Local youth sometimes use it for dance or parade practice.

There is no market in the neighborhood, but the central Mercado Lucas de Galvez is only a few blocks to the south. Believe me when I say you must visit this vast market full of everything you can imagine.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

If you need help moving furniture or a task to see the need for a truck, go to the east side of the square to find men and crews to help you. On the west side of the park are the Spanish restaurant, El Segoviano, the famous Los Almendros restaurant, and the Museo del Arte Popular, the museum of Mexican popular arts and crafts.

Mejorada Activities:
Mostly centered around local celebrations and events.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

San Cristóbal – Calle 50 y 69

In the 1540s, Francisco Montejo and his conquistadores set aside this area to house the Indians from Central Mexico who helped them conquer the Mayans. San Cristóbal Church, called Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the last one that Spaniards built in the Yucatán with its foundation stone laid in 1757.

An interesting fact . . .

During the rapid growth of the city, it was difficult to travel to San Cristobal because of a high hill and a street called “The Street of the Impossible.” This extraordinary neighborhood gave shelter to five cultures: Maya, Mexican, Spanish, Mestizo, and Arab.

A natural choice, Lebanese immigrants established their businesses and homes in San Cristobal.


Undoubtedly, histories assure us San Cristóbal appeared, for a time, to be like a suburb of Beirut or Damascus. From this cultural Colonia, two institutions of Yucatecan cuisine originated: the tortilla and the kibi.


The church is reminiscent of the Cathedral in the Plaza Grande. It also shares its recessed shell archway with the church in Uman. Take some time to enjoy the magnificent Moorish choir window featuring the Virgin.

A stairway of 129 steps takes you to the nave’s interior gallery with a neoclassical stone retablo, reportedly sculpted by an imported European sculptor. The inscription in Latin above the entrance reads, “This is the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.”

This area remains the main entrance to Mérida from Chichen Itza and Valladolid.

San Cristobal Activities:
Annually – December 12th
Virgin of Guadalupe Celebration

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Garcia Gineres Las Americas Park and Our Lady of Fatima Church – Calle 20 y 23

Originally the land of the Hacienda Datil y Limon meaning date and lemon), Señor Don Joaquín García Ginerés purchased this part of Mérida and is his namesake.

When she moved to Mérida in the 1960s, Joanna Rosado author of ‘Tomando Agua de Pozo’, recalled García Ginerés as far out of town and crisscrossed by dirt roads.

On wide streets, you’ll see a variety of house styles from art deco to colonial to European to modern, most less than 50 years old.

You won’t want to miss this . . .

Mayan Art Deco style (also seen in the Monumento a la Patria on Paseo de Montejo) influenced the Parque de Las Americas. Monuments throughout the park pay homage to all the different countries of North and South America, built to represent the unity of the American people, pre-Hispanic cultures, and socialist ideals.

The park features a large fountain, a performance half-shell or concha open-air auditorium, the Jose Martí cultural center, and a fenced-off section reserved exclusively as a children’s play area.

Believe it or not –

Rumor says a cenote lies underneath the concha. Many cultural and athletic events, award ceremonies, and celebrations happen in the park on the weekends.

Our Lady of Fatima church reflects an enchanting art deco style and gorgeous stained glass windows.

Garcia Gineres Activities:
Slow Food Market
Every Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Part of the worldwide Slow Food network (the opposite of fast food), the goals preserve culinary traditions, focus on regional organic produce, and encourage healthy eating. Arrive early for the best selections as vendors tend to run out of their products closer to noon. Bring shopping bags.

Visit the church to find other event postings on their bulletin board.

Centenario Peace Park and Parque Zoológico del Centenario – Av. Itzaes y 59

The area around the Parque Centenario Zoo is the Centenario. Originally the Barrio de Santa Catarina, this area was part of Santiago. Initially, a poor neighborhood, unwanted members of the population, including the sick, the crazy, and the criminal lived here.

The zoo, constructed as part of a nationwide building project by Porfirio Diaz in the early 1960s, connects to  Parque de la Paz (Peace Park). The neighborhood behind and around the Zoo remains a humble and authentic neighborhood.

There is no local market here. However, there are several larger grocery stores and a few smaller ones nearby.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Colonial History in Mérida

Less Well-Known Colonias

To wrap up this article about the neighborhoods in Mérida, here are a few more with a brief, interesting fact about each. The zip code is in parentheses for better directions when you visit!

Itzimna – Calle 15 y 20 (97100)

Originally, Itzimna was a separate Mayan village on the northeastern outskirts of the original city limits of Mérida. The first colonial building here was the church built as a chapel for the resident Indian population. The church is a favorite of locals and the site of many weddings due to its charm and beauty. Visit the famous Wayan’e Taco Stand!

Alemán or Miguel Aleman – Calle 21 y 26 (97148)

Built-in 1957 as one of the first planned developments in Mérida, Aleman is named after Mexico’s president at the time. A federally funded development designated for workers was the only Colonia with a sewer system at that time. Believe it or not, it is STILL the only Colonia with a sewer system. It was also the first Colonia in the city to get city water.

Jesus Carranza – Calle 41 y 28 (97109)

A very small Colonia next to Itzimna and Aleman. Every Wednesday night, there are tianguis (traditional markets) in existence since pre-Hispanic times. It is the equivalent of an American flea market.

Chen Bech – Calle 57 y 42 (97000)

Chen Bech means “birds nest” and is the site of the original Yucatecan brewery built-in 1900. Eventually sold to Grupo Modelo, it closed in 2002. Chen Bech Mercado is one of the best in Mérida that locals and ex-pats visit it. Look for the tianguis here too.

Chuburná – Calle 29 y 14 (97205)

The history of Chuburná is fascinating (the Colonia NOT the beach town). Chuburná translates as “the house of yellow cotton.” In its own government in the 1940s, it was the largest ejido in Mérida. An ejido is a community-owned property designated after the Mexican Revolution) Chuburná has one of the oldest churches in Mérida, with a fantastic flea market every Sunday.

Chuminopolis – Calle 27 y 20 (97158)

According to local tradition, the name is a combination of Chumin (a nickname for Domingo) and Polis (the Greek root word for ‘city’). This was the Chinese district.  Chinese migrants who worked on the railroad lived here. One of the most beautiful buildings in the area is the Quinta el Olvido (House of Forgetting). It was built at the end of the 19th century by the engineer who paved the streets of Mérida, Rafael Quintero.

La Plancha – Calle 43 y 48 (97000)

If you follow the economic development of Mérida, you will surely come across information regarding La Plancha Park. Since 1995, unsuccessful attempts at the transformation to the abandoned railway station and surrounding area into a “public park of metropolitan character.” Currently, La Plancha is part of the Mayan Train infrastructure project to connect five peninsular states by rail, ultimately giving Cancun tourists easier access to historical sites in the Yucatán.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Mérida – “The North”

Mérida has been growing enormously to the north neighborhoods since the second half of the twentieth century.

Referred to as “The North”; some parts are very affluent. People will tell you the richer neighborhoods are here, and to some extent, that is true.


“The North” is the area with the greatest commercial growth along with newer homes, shopping malls, hospitals, department stores, private schools, franchises from all over the world, and car dealerships.


As you continue on Prolongación de Montejo from Centro, get ready to experience culture shock. Some have likened this area to similar ones in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and other suburbs of cities in the US.

Bottom line –

You’ll need a car if you decide to live here. This area is popular with many locals due to its proximity to the beach, just a quick 20-minute drive.

“The North” Neighborhoods of Mérida

The Best Neighborhoods as The North” Neighborhoods of Mérida are Montecristo, Montebello, San Ramón Norte, Montes de Amé, Vista Alegre Norte, Altabrisa, San Esteban, San Miguel, Brisas, Jardines de Mérida, Los Pinos, Los Arcos, Francisco de Montejo and Poligono 108 just to name a few. These are the ones you are most likely to hear about.

New shopping malls are Altabrisa, City Center, MacroPlaza, and The Harbor, located in various parts of The North.

The Uniqueness of Mérida

The Best Neighborhoods in Mérida make it a unique city. Numerous Colonias and Fraccionamientos in Mérida have their own unique style and personality.

Want to know the best part?

Mérida offers vibrant communities, both large and small, where history and culture are important. There is something for everyone!

While you are in Mérida, feel free to move about the city with ease and curiosity and to explore the Best neighborhoods. The locals are always willing to help and answer questions. You will find there are no definitive lines between these Colonias and Fraccionamientos. However, the people who live in them will surely assist you with the boundaries and the colorful stories that make each of them special.

For more information about Merida, please visit here:

21 Surprising Things to Have on Your Mérida Mexico Itinerary

If you book an Airbnb, read this important information 5 Secrets to the Best Airbnb Stay in Mérida

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