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Merida
Land of Wonders
 

Remate de Paseo Montejo

As a result of the henequen boom the region enjoyed toward the end of the XIXth century, a group of Yucatecan landowners decided to implement a project to build a public promenade that would update the capital and be “worhy of the City of Mérida”. Paseo de Montejo got its name from the founder of the city, Francisco de Montejo y León “El Mozo”. It was built between 1886 and 1905 and was inspired on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

It is divided into two sections: Paseo de Montejo and Prolongación de Montejo. Along this avenue stand some of the oldes and most beautiful constructions in the city. Today some of them house banks or museums; others are still inhabited by their owners. Every Saturday night the Remate de Montejo hosts the famous Noche Mexicana (Mexican Night) where there’s regional and vernacular music, crafts and antojitos (Mexican comfort food).

Casas Gemelas

These mansions, located at no. 45 of Paseo de Montejo, by 45 and 43, are twin constructions with French Renaissance features. They are the work of European architect M. Umbdenstock and their construction was carried out under the supervision of engineer Manuel Cantón Ramos, who was also in charge of the edification of Palacio Cantón, where the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History is located. Brothers Ernesto and Camilo Cámara Zavala brought the plans for these residences from France at the beginning of the XXth century. One was acquired by Mr. Fernando Barbachano, who had it decorated with the latest style of those days; it is preserved that way. The other remained unfinished for many years and was completed by its current owner, Mr. Mario Molina Méndez.

Located west of the way, one block from the beginning of Paseo de Montejo, these small palaces have frenchified architectural elements, visible even on the wrought iron balconies and entrance doors, which are of the few specific reminiscences left over from the period of splendor Yucatán enjoyed during the first decade of the XXth century.

Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia

Palacio Cantón owes its name to General Francisco Cantón, its original owner. It was built between 1904 and 1911, during the Porfiriato, at the height of Yucatán’s henequen industry. Today it houses the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History. This mansion, a fine example of the mannerist baroquization trend in architecture, is probably the building with the highest hierarchy on Paseo de Montejo. This is not only true because of its structural attention to detail but also due to the fact that since 1966 it serves for the promotion and diffusion of archaeological and cultural knowledge of the Mayan generations of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It has marble interiors in different shades and delicately
accomplished plaster frames and decorations on walls and ceilings. There is a grand white marble staircase that rises at right angles next to the high walls and leads to the second floor among heavy marble handrails. It has a wide terrace, based on the ground floor, from where the view of both the Palace and Paseo de Montejo is admirable. It’s located on Paseo de Montejo by 43.

Casa Peón del Minarete

Its date of construction is a mystery; however, by 1913 Dr. Medina Ayora lived here. He bequeathed this mansion to his children and grandchildren.
The Casa del Minarete is typical XIXth century neoclassical architecture. It has a tall windowed belvedere of Moorish influence and is one of those few big houses that have withstood the deterioration of urban beauty this avenue once possessed. It still gives shine and historical presence to the Paseo de Montejo.
It’s located at no. 473, a few steps from the monument dedicated to Felipe Carrillo Puerto.

Casa Peón de Regil

This, the second most important house on Paseo de Montejo, dates from 1905 and was constructed by order of Mr. Pedro de Regil C. It is characterized by its Italian style and stone-carved façade.The fine stone carving on its columns and balustrades enhances the stately air of this mansion.

The cornices and continuous molding of its façade stand out, and so do the framed openings with Hellenic, Ionic, Doric and Corinthian influences in columns and capitals. Worth noting are some details of incense burners, shields and garlands. Located on Paseo de Montejo no. 471, by Calle 35.

Quinta Montes Molina

The story behind this mansion takes us back to the Porfirato (1876-1911). At the end of the XIXth century Cuban citizen Don Aurelio Portunondo y Barceló came to Mérida, fell in love with Doña Josefa Regil Cazares and built her this house after their wedding. He hired the same architects and artisans who constructed the Peón Contreras Theater, venue of which he was partner.

Around 1915, in the midst of the Revolution, Don Aurelio was  forced to sell his home but made sure to find a buyer who would not only appreciate its beauty but also its sentimental value.
This man was prominent Spanish businessman Don Avelino Montes Linaje, who always respected the original construction and enhanced it by extending the balconies and bedrooms.
After Don Avelino’s death his daughter, Doña Josefina Casa Vales Montes Molina, inherited the property. Over the years she kept it exactly as it was in memory of her parents. Today, lamps, mirrors, pictures, paintings, sculptures, rugs, furniture, Limoges china and Chiristofle flatware are kept in tip-top shape, as if Don Avelino were expected for lunch. The current owners want to share their legacy with visitors and locals alike. Therefore, this mansion formerly known as Villa Beatriz has a museum where the fine table linen exhibit is a must, but it’s also for rent and makes an unforgettable historical location for a romantic dinner for two or a wedding, reunion or other event for up to 1,500 people. It is located on Paseo de Montejo no. 469, between 33-A and 35.

Casa Vales

Another of the architectonic treasures that bear witness to the splendor Paseo de Montejo once enjoyed is this mansion which shares its third owner’s name: Mr. Agustín Vales Castillo. This neoclassical stately mansion, which combines the symetry of its façade with the presence of sober colums with Doric characteristics, rises at no. 452 of this, the most important avenue in the city, a few feet south of the Monumento a Justo Sierra. Built in 1905, by Mr. Fernando Rendón, the story of Casa Vales dates back to the period of biggest economic prosperity in Yucatán, when the growing and export of henequen was the main activity in the state. Since 1995, it is the headquarter of a banking institution.

Monumento a Justo Sierra y Felipe Carrillo Puerto

The first statue to embellish Paseo de Montejo was dedicated to Dr. Justo Sierra O’Reilly. It was erected in 1906 and placed on the north end of the avenue, where it still stands. Man of letters and historian, Dr. Sierra O’Reilly was close friend and champion of the socioeconomic class responsible for promoting Paseo the Montejo; this effigy was meant as a gesture to thank him for it. Two decades later, in 1926, the monument dedicated to Felipe Carrillo Puerto was
unveiled. This distinguished Yucatecan figure, nicknamed “Apostle for the Bronze Race”, founded the Partido Socialista Obrero de Yucatán (Socialist Workers Party of Yucatán). His political career led him to become Governor in 1922, and he delivered his first official speech in Mayan. His staunch defense of Mayan rights and his recognition of their
value triggered his execution in 1924. Three years later he was declared Eminent Hero of Yucatán. His effigy is located in the central traffic circle of Paseo de Montejo at the end of Calle 37.

Monumento a la Patria

This masterpiece that depicts the story of México stands almost 46 feet tall and is located on the third traffic circle on Paseo de Montejo, in white Mérida. It was the first altar raised to honor nationality, not only in México but in America, and is the only monument in the world erected during the XXth century to have been cut directly on stone. It was unveiled on April 23rd1956 by Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines. The remains of its creator, Colombian artist Rómulo Rozowho lived his last 33 years in Méridalie here. This work of art suggests that the Itzaes people had a marine origin. It also tells the story of colonial México, the Independence, Reforma and Revolution. It shows many important figures in Mexican history and symbolic elements such as stone, water, fire and metals. Its 31 columns represent the 28 states, 2 territories and one federal district that make
up this country.