Probably like many of you, January 1st was a mandatory work holiday for me. The perfect excuse to get out of town for the long weekend, right? Hmmm, where could we go that has an international vibe but is a short flight from our home in south Florida? Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula!
Now let me start by saying that we’re not big beach/pool/all-inclusive resort fans at all. I start to get bored about halfway through the first day of a beach vacation. But the Yucatan has so much more to offer such as amazing Mayan ruins, adventure parks, and lovely Spanish Colonial cities.
The bulk of our time on this trip was spend in the Yucatan’s capital city of Merida. You can read an overview of Merida here with about 20 photos. But this post will focus on touring two of the many impressive buildings facing Merida’s main square, Plaza Grande. Best of all, admission to both is totally free!
The Governor’s Palace is the green building located on the corner of Calle 60 & Calle 61. Actually, it’s directly across the street from Gordita Gordo, where we enjoyed a casual, inexpensive lunch and catty corner from the cathedral. As I mentioned earlier, admission is free of charge. There are a couple of serious looking guards flanking the entrance, but you can walk right in.
The inside courtyard is beautiful in its own regard and was tastefully decorated for Chistsmas. But then you notice the many incredible murals depicting the history of the Mayan people in the Yucatan. There are clean, free bathrooms available on the first floor, as well.
Heading up the second floor, there are more murals among the oh-so-colonial open galleries.
But the highlight of the Governor’s Palace was the exquisite exhibition hall.
Museo Casa Montejo
Next, we strolled over to the south side of the Plaza Grande to enter the Casa Montejo Museum on Calle 63. The home was built in 1549 by Don Francisco de Montejo, conqueror of the Yucatán Península.
This property was later purchased by the National Bank of Mexico in 1981 and has been renovated at least twice since then. So while there is little original remaining inside, it’s an still interesting way to spend 30-60 minutes. And did I mention that it’s air conditioned?
At first, it appeared that there was a good size line to go inside, but it turns out that folks were just waiting to use the ATM machines near the entrance. Besides the ATM’s, there is a full fledged bank branch inside.
Although we walked around on our own, guided tours are also offered several times per day. The guards here are very austere and you must check any large-ish bags and any water bottles or other beverages before being allowed inside. Admission is free of charge.
Besides the living quarters shown above, there are some other exhibits which change from time to time. The first of these exhibits were some of the works of Beatriz Russek, a designer who interprets traditional fabrics into contemporary clothing designs.
The other rotating exhibit was a collection of photographs from Manuel Alvarez Bravo. All were taken in the area during the year 1946 and were quite good. Mr. Alvarez Bravo passed away in 2002 at the age of 100.
We really enjoyed getting to go inside the Governor’s Palace and the Casa Montejo Museum. It’s a great way to take a break from the afternoon heat, too!