San Francisco convent (Ancash and Lampa, 9:15 a.m.–5:45 p.m. daily, US$3.50, US$1.75 students) is a 16th-century convent featuring a patio lined with centuries-old azulejos (Sevillean tiles) and roofed with machimbrado, perfectly fitted puzzle pieces of Nicaraguan mahogany.
There are frescoes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, a 1656 painting of the Last Supper with the disciples eating guinea pig and drinking from gold Inca cups (qeros), and a series of paintings from Peter Paul Rubens’s workshop depicting the passion of Christ.Destination:Activities:
The 16th-century San Pedro (Azángaro and Ucayali, hours vary, free) has a drab mannerist facade but is one of the most spectacular church interiors in Peru. Huge white arching ceilings lead to a magnificent altar covered in gold leaf and designed by Matías Maestro, who is credited for bringing the neoclassic style to Peru.
At the end of the right nave, ask permission to see the mind-blowing sacristy, decorated with tiles and graced with a magnificent painting of the coronation of the Virgin Mary by Peru’s most famous painter, Bernardo Bitti. Painted on the ceiling boards above are scenes of the life from San Ignacio. If you come in the morning, it is possible to ask permission to see the cloisters and two interior chapels as well.Destination:Activities:
Allow at least a half day on foot for seeing Trujillo’s colonial core, which offers a dense cluster of well-preserved homes and churches to the north of Plaza de Armas. Start at the northern edge of town at Avenida España, the congested beltway that was once a six-meter wall built 1680–1685 to ward off pirate attacks. The crumbling military wall was knocked down in 1942, but a section has been preserved at the intersection of España and Estete.Destination:Activities:
Walk to the top of Cerro de San Basilio and take a look around the old contaduria counting house and fort (built in 1770), where riches were tallied and stored en route to Mexico City or to the Philippines and China. Several of the original great cannons still stand guard at the viewpoint like aging sentinels waiting for long-dead adversaries.
Behind and a bit downhill from the weathered stone arches of the contaduria stand the gaping portals and towering, moss-stained belfry of the old church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, built in 1769. Undamaged by war, it remained an active church until at least 1872, around the time when poet Henry W. Longfellow was inspired by the silencing and removal of its aging bells.Destination:Activities:
The most prominent building on the plaza is the cathedral. Built with stones taken from Maya structures, it was completed in 1598 making it one of the oldest buildings on the continent. The architecture reflects the combination of Moorish and Renaissance styles that were prevalent in Spain at the time.
Inside, immense stone columns hold up a beautiful latticed stone ceiling, and a huge wood Christ stands behind the altar in place of more elaborate altarpieces seen in other churches. Overall, the exterior and interior are stark in comparison to some of the ornately adorned churches in other parts of Mexico—this is partly owing to the traditional austerity of Franciscan design, and partly to damage and looting that took place during the Caste War and the 1910 revolution.Destination:Activities:
On the northeast corner of the Plaza de la Independencia is the Palacio de Gobierno (8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily), the seat of government offices for the state of Yucatán. Inside and in the upper galleries there are several abstract paintings by the famous Mérida-born artist Fernando Castro Pacheco.
Created between 1971 and 1974, these works depict the history of the region—from the time of the ancient Maya to modern-day Mexico. Restoration of these works was completed in 2004 under the supervision of Pacheco himself by four professional restoration artists from the Centro de Restauración de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.Destination:Activities:
Facing the southern edge of the central plaza is the Casa de Montejo, once the home of Francisco de Montejo “El Mozo” (The Younger). The building was constructed in 1549 by Maya slaves. Note the carvings of Spaniards standing at attention with their feet firmly planted on the heads of the Mayas—a lasting reminder of Spanish tyranny.
Until the mid-1800s, 13 generations of Montejos lived in the house. Afterward, it changed hands several times until to it was sold to Banamex in 1980. Today, the bank takes up the entire structure; the enormous interior courtyard can be seen during banking hours (9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.).Destination:Activities:
Bus tours of the city are a good way to get your bearings straight, and to get a sense of which places in Mérida you’d like to return to spend extra time (and which not). There are two bus operators that give city tours; though different, both provide a good lay of the land.Destination:Activities:
Seven kilometers (4.3 miles) northwest of the Loltún caves, Hacienda Tabi (8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, US$1) makes an interesting side trip if you enjoy poking around old haciendas and have some extra time.
The soaring 2,044-square-meter (22,000-square-foot) main structure has 24 rooms and faces a huge grassy area, with a windmill, stables, rum distillery, and sugar mill running along the edges. In front, through the trees, there’s also a massive, beautifully decaying chapel and two stout chimneys.Destination:Activities:
Just off Highway 261 between Mérida and Uxmal, Hacienda Yaxcopoil (Hwy. 261, 33 km/20.5 mi south of Mérida, tel. 999/910-4469, www.yaxcopoil.com, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., Sun. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., US$4.75, children free) was one of dozens of huge henequen (a type of cactus, sometimes referred to as sisal) estates that dotted the Yucatán Peninsula.Destination:Activities:
Buy Moon Travel GuidesLoading books