Founded: January 6, 1542
Mérida is the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, and the largest city in southeastern Mexico. The city is also the seat of the eponymous Municipality.
The city's rich cultural heritage is a product of the syncretism of the Maya and Spanish cultures during the colonial era. It was the first city to be ever named American Capital of Culture and is the only city that has received the title twice. The Cathedral of Mérida was built in the late 16th century with stones from nearby Mayan ruins and is known to be the oldest cathedral in the mainland Americas. In addition, the city has the third largest old town district on the continent.
Mérida is often considered the safest city of Mexico and one of the safest cities in the Americas. In 2019 it hosted the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, receiving more than 30 of them. It is a City of Gastronomy as part of the UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. The UN-Habitat's City Prosperity Index recognized Mérida as the best city to live in Mexico for its high quality of life. The city was certified as an International Safe Community by the Karolinska Institute of Sweden for its high level of public security. Forbes magazine has ranked Mérida three different times as one of the three best cities in Mexico to live, invest and do business.
Founded: May 27, 1543
Named after Valladolid, at the time the capital of Spain. Valladolid in Yucatán was established by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo's nephew at some distance from the current town, at a lagoon called Chouac-Ha in the municipality of Tizimín. However, early Spanish settlers complained about the mosquitos and humidity at the original location, and petitioned to have the city moved further inland.
On March 24, 1545, Valladolid was relocated to its current location, built atop a Mayan town called Zací or Zací-Val, whose buildings were dismantled to reuse the stones to build the Spanish colonial town. The following year the Maya people revolted, but the rebellion was suppressed with the support of additional Spanish troops from Mérida.
In 1705 there was a revolt by local Maya; the rebels killed a number of town officials who had taken refuge in the cathedral. When the revolt was suppressed, the cathedral was considered irreparably profaned, and was demolished. A new cathedral was built the following year that still exists; it was oriented to face north unlike most other Colonial churches in Yucatan which face east.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, Valladolid was the third largest and most important city of the Yucatán Peninsula, (after Mérida and Campeche). It had a sizable well-to-do Criollo population, with a number of old Spanish style mansions in the old city. Valladolid was widely known by its nickname "The Sultana of the East."
Founded: October 4, 1540
Founded by Francisco Montejo, Campeche was terrorized by pirates and marauders until the city began to build its fortifications in 1686.
San Francisco de Campeche was originally an indigenous village, Ah Kim Pech, where the Spanish first landed in Mexico in 1517. The city of Campeche was founded in 1540 and fortified against pirates during the 17th century. It still has the appearance of a fortress. Historical monuments and buildings, such as the Franciscan cathedral, old Maya ruins, and the old city walls and forts, attract many tourists.
The fortifications system of Campeche, an eminent example of the military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, is part of an overall defensive system set up by the Spanish to protect the ports on the Caribbean Sea from pirate attacks such as the 1633 Sack of Campeche and the 1663 Sack of Campeche.
The state of preservation and quality of its architecture earned it the status of a World Heritage Site in 1999.
Founded: December 4, 1841
After the Spanish conquest of Yucatán in the 16th century a Spanish colonial city was founded atop the existing Maya one; however it was decided that it would take a prohibitively large amount of work to level these two huge structures and so the Spanish contented themselves with placing a small Christian temple atop the great pyramid and building a large Franciscan Monastery atop the acropolis. It was named after San Antonio de Padua. Completed in 1561, the open atrium of the Monastery is still today second in size only to that at the Vatican. Most of the cut stone from the Pre-Columbian city was reused to build the Spanish churches, monastery, and surrounding buildings.
Izamal was the first chair of the Bishops of Yucatán before they were moved to Mérida. The fourth Bishop of Yucatán, Diego de Landa lived here.
The town of Izamal was first granted the status of city by the government of Yucatán on December 4, 1841.
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