Merida Cathedral (Catedral de San Ildefonso)
Built between 1561 and 1598, Mérida Cathedral was the first completed cathedral in the Americas and its sparse interior owes to ransackings during the Mexican Revolution. Highlights include the 25-foot-tall Cristo de la Unidad (Christ of Unity) crucifix, paintings of indigenous leaders, and the Cristo de las Ampollas (Christ of the Blisters) statue. As a major Mérida landmark, the Catedral de San Ildefonso is a popular stop on many city sightseeing tours, including half-day excursions and multi-day trips. Visitors keen to learn more can opt for dedicated religious building tours, which typically stop at several other churches and chapels.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fans of religious culture, history, and architecture won’t want to miss the Mérida Cathedral.
- Prepare to spend less than an hour exploring the cathedral, both inside and out.
- There’s no dress code but try to cover both your shoulders and knees when visiting.
- Mérida Cathedral is both wheelchair and stroller accessible.
How to Get There
Mérida Cathedral is located on the east side of the Plaza Grande, next door to the MACAY Museum, in the heart of Mérida’s historic downtown. For the majority of visitors, the cathedral is most easily accessed on foot. Nearby parking space is limited and there’s no onsite parking.
When to Get There
Mérida Cathedral is open daily from 6am to 12pm and then again from 4:30pm to 8pm. Mass is held on weekends—check in advance for exact times—or stop by in the evening. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the semi-regular sound and light shows.
What to Do near Plaza Grande, Mérida
Although the Catedral de San Ildefonso is one of the key attractions on the Plaza Grande, there are plenty more places worth visiting. Art lovers should head to the neighboring MACAY Museum, which houses a vast collection of contemporary Mexican art, while history buffs may prefer the Casa de Montejo. There, behind an original 16th century façade, marvel over antique furniture.
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