Merida is located in the Northwest corner of the Yucatan state, less than 30 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico. Merida is the capital and largest city in the Yucatan state, serving as the cultural and financial capital of the region. Merida is a modern, cosmopolitan city with museums, art galleries, restaurants, shops, and boutiques. A major center of commerce, Merida Yucatan is considered the crossroads of the region and one of the most important places to experience Mexico's Mayan heritage.
Merida was founded in 1542 by Francisco de Montejo "el mozo" (the son), and built on the site of the ancient Mayan city T'ho, meaning "city of five hills." T'ho was the center of Mayan culture and activity in the Yucatan region. After the arrival of the Spanish, the ancient city's five main pyramids were destroyed and their ruins used in the construction of Merida's cathedral and other important buildings.
Merida was built as a walled city and several of the old Spanish city gates remain. The city boasts the second-largest historic center in Mexico; only Mexico City's historic center is larger. Merida gets its nickname, La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), from the predominance of white limestone that was used as a building material; although locals today will tell you that it also has to do with the cleanliness of the city's streets and public areas, not to mention how safe the city is.