As one of the safest cities in Mexico and even North America, Mérida is becoming an increasingly popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic and laid-back Mexican experience.
In July, Mérida unveiled its 3 new Magical Neighborhoods (Barrios Mágicos) – Xcalachén, San Sebastián, and La Ermita de Santa Isabel.
But what is the Magical Neighborhood certification all about?
Following the same concept as the ‘Magical Town’ designation, these neighborhoods were honored by the Department of Tourism due to their rich cultural, historical, and even gastronomical significance.
With these new designations, Mérida seeks to enhance its already vast tourism offerings, as highlighted by José Luis Martínez Seremena, head of the Department of Economic Development.
@irving.gil Dstos curiosos de “La Ermita”, primer barrio mágico de Mérida #capcut #merida #yucatan #barrio #barriomagico #laermita #santaisabel #panucho #donucho #magic #xcalachen #sansebastian #yucateco #costumbre #tradicion ♬ Las Mujeres Que Se Pintan – Orquets jaranera legión musical
The Magical Neighborhoods were selected according to several factors, such as their proximity to each other and their cultural offerings, such as festivals, history, culture, and gastronomy.
So, let’s dig deeper into the unique allure of each of these neighborhoods and discover why they’re set to become one of Mérida’s top ‘tourism magnets.’
Originally a quaint town on the outskirts of Mérida, Xcalachén became part of the Yucatecan capital as the city expanded.
Beyond its rich history, Xcalachén has gained recognition for its colorful murals, which began as an urban art initiative and have since evolved into a cherished tradition.
@catadorademares 📌 Todo lo que necesitas saber: 🗓️ Sábado 15 de abril en el barrio de Xcalachén 🐷 Más de 7 chicharronerías participantes. ⏰ De 11:00 AM a 17:00 PM. 📍 Calle 95 x 64 Centro. Barrio de Xcalachén. ♻️ Te recomendamos llevar un recipiente para llevarte tu chicharra. Recuerda que puedes llevar tu bici y llevar tu recipiente para hacer de este festival un lugar sustentable. Por cierto, cada mural es muy instagrameable, así que no olvides tomarte muchas fotografías 📸. #VisitaMerida #Merida #Yucatan #VisitMerida #FestivalDeLaChicharra #Xcalachen ♬ My Addiction – Alex Guesta
In 2017, some of the neighborhood’s inhabitants opened their facades to graffiti artists, who painted the walls with murals depicting the city’s culture and history.
From indigenous themes to local flora and fauna, these mesmerizing murals offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s rich culture and traditions and of course, an opportunity to capture that perfect Instagram shot.
Xcalachén is also famous for crafting the best ‘chicharra’ in Mérida. This dish is made from pork meat or skin fried in its own fat, mixed with an assortment of pork meat pieces and accompanied by local bitter orange, habanero chili, and cabbage.
In August, Xcalachén bursts into a vibrant life with the now famous ‘Chicharra Festival’, where you can indulge in this local delicacy while enjoying music, regional dances, and an exuberant atmosphere.
La Ermita de Santa Isabel
Named after its distinctive yellow-colored chapel, La Ermita is renowned as one of Mérida’s most stunning neighborhoods.
In fact, due to its colorful colonial houses and French cobblestone streets, La Ermita has been dubbed a real-life Telenovela (Mexican soap opera) spot by the locals.
Not only does La Ermita Chapel offer a beautiful sight, but it’s also surrounded by a lovely botanical garden full of local plants that visitors are free to explore.
Taking a stroll along these beautiful streets offers a glimpse into the local life and cherished customs, resonating through traditional markets, corner stores and bakeries.
Just a stone’s-throw away from La Ermita, you’ll find the San Sebastián park, a culinary haven where you can indulge in a variety of local delicacies, ranging from cochinita tacos to turkey soup.
In stark contrast to the opulent Paseo Montejo, San Sebastián originated as a community of servants, laborers, and lower-class workers.
As a result of its mostly indigenous and mestizo population, San Sebastián became known for its vibrant traditions and customs, which still are a fundamental part of this neighborhood’s unique allure to this day.
At the heart of the community lies the San Sebastián Parish (formerly known as the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Parish). It was constructed atop a Mayan temple, symbolizing the transition to Catholicism for the indigenous population.
In early August, the neighborhood celebrates the Feast of San Sebastián, a festivity dedicated to the parish that lasts about fifteen days.
Attending the Feast of San Sebastián guarantees a cultural experience like none other. Every day, the celebrations are filled with revelry, music, amusement rides, food, and tradition.
On the final day, the festivities culminate with a mesmerizing fireworks display accompanied by dance performances, live music, and more.
So, if you happen to visit Mérida in August, make sure not to miss out on this exciting and truly unique experience!
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