Iglesia de Santiago
This church is located where the Spaniards found the first native settlement when they came to T’ho. They named it Santiago, after the Apostle of the Americas. According to the inscription engraved on the arch, that serves as main entrance to the temple, it was finished in 1637. Inside the church is the open chapel, also called capilla de indios. On a wall, on the left side of the presbytery (usual location for the Cristo de la Transfiguración), there is an embedded stone plaque which indicates that this is the building where the first mass took place in the city, and that it was destroyed in 1916 because of “sectarian political unrest”.
Every year, from July 26 to August 8, one of the most representative traditional festivities of Mérida takes place here. It is the celebration in honor of the Santo Cristo de la Transfiguración, which started when the first evangelists assigned him as patron saint of this church.
Parque y Mercado de Santiago
Santiago was originally a town inhabited by natives and ruled by tribal chiefs or caciques. Later it merged with the city and became a neighbourhood.
The atmosphere at Santiago Park has always been lively and dynamic, typical of a neighbourhood filled with memories. Early in the XXth century the Circo Teatro Yucateco where bullfighing, circus and theater performances took place was established here. Between 1982 and 1984 the small square underwent remodeling: a grandstand was erected, avenues were paved with pink bricks and the streets adjacent to the church (specifically the ones north and south) were improved and closed to traffic. This corner of Mérida has it own personality, thanks to its surroundings: movie theaters, the typical Santos Degollado market, traditional businesses and the Remembranzas Musicales cultural program, that brings locals and visitors together every Tuesday night for a stroll down memory lane through songs of yesterday. It’s located on Calle 72, between 57 and 59, Downtown.
Parque Zoológico del Centenario
In commemoration of the Independence of 1810, a project was presented for a recreational park near the city. The original idea would have included a Botanical Garden. First the bandstand and benches were installed; a lake was added, for swimming and rowing. The entrances had novel architectural details. The Cuban community donated a marble fountain.
Pheasants, ostriches, geese, swans and other animals were brought. The main entrance was for carriages and the side entrances for pedestrians. It was going to be named Parque de la Independencia, but on September 27th 1910 a zapote tree which is now called El Centenario was planted there and that’s how the zoo got its name. The park underwent its most important redestribution during 1962, when it became a zoo. Experts from Mexico City’s Zoológico de Chapultepec supervised the project. The zoo has an aviary, a reptile house, a section for primates and one for mammals. It also has a play area and a gallery. It is located on the corner of Av. Itzáes and Calle 59. Visiting hours are from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M, Tuesday through Sunday. The recreational area is open from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Free entrance.
Museo de Historia Natural
The Museum of Natural History was created during Mayor Herbé Rodríguez Abraham’s term in office (1985-1987). It occupies a building that dates back to the beginning of the XXth century and is located next to the zoo. This museum has educational and recreational purposes. It accomplishes the important task of helping people become aware of the past and future of our planet and of the beings who inhabit it.
At the beginning of 2006 the museum and its museographic information were reorganized and updated in order to makethem more attractive to the public. This institution aims to support education and to popularize science that encourages respect towards nature and care for the environment. It also intends to serve as a recreational area. Among other things, it offers visitor services, guided tours and summer courses and workshops on the environment.
It’s located on Calle 59, between 84 and 84-A, by the northern side of the Parque Zoológico. Opening hours are from Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Entrance is free.