The Santiago neighborhood is a portrait of the history of Mérida. Learn about its history, tourist offer and walk through other neighborhoods of Merida nearby ...

The neighborhoods of Mérida are the cradle of thousands of stories and traditions. The Santiago neighborhood in Mérida, Yucatán is one of them.

Traditional and nostalgic, this area is one of the oldest in the city. It is located west and north of Plaza Grande.

Its indigenous past and its importance during the henequen industry, as it was a forced passage between Mérida and Sisal, forced this area of the city to grow rapidly.

A historical and ancient church

During colonial times, parishes were divided by caste: the Sacred Cathedral, for Spaniards or whites, that of the Holy Name of Jesus and Saint Lucia for blacks and that of Santiago for the Indians of the neighborhood and the servants of the Spanish.

To give you an idea of his years, The church in the Santiago neighborhood was founded in 1637. In ancient times it was great. Currently, there are few remains of the original structure. However, a modest sanctuary with a baroque statue of Santiago and the dated inscription above the entrance are still preserved.

The front of the Santiago neighborhood church and the main nave, supported by buttresses, not necessarily flying, was built in the 19th century.

Santiago neighborhood history

When was the Santiago neighborhood founded? It was founded in 1542, like the city.

Since then it has undergone different transformations and is characterized by preserving a family and calm atmosphere.

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350 years ago it was the area relegated to the Indians and indigenous artisans. A few meters from the central plaza, over time, it became one of the first areas to expand.

So it quickly became a major shopping area for residents of other nearby areas such as neighborhoods of San Sebastián or Ermita.

In addition, at the beginning of the last century, Santiago and Calle 59 were the main formal entrance to Mérida after Porfirio Díaz built the Centennial Zoo and Parque de La Paz.

German District

Merida neighborhoods
Colors of the neighborhoods of Mérida.

In the 20th century Santiago was famous for hosting the German district and the Quinta Los Alemanes.

In this sense, the chronicles of the time maintain that Barrio de Santiago was the best place to live in Mérida, before the Paseo de Montejo was built.

In the past, the Germans owned three or four large hardware stores, which mainly traded with haciendas. This is why it was a prolific and constantly growing business.

Art was also a distinctive sign. In 1914, the neighborhood got its first movie theater, called La Frontera. There was also a hotel in the building. It was located on the west side of the park.

The Santiago neighborhood was also home to the famous Salón theater, which was built in 1915 on the north side of the park. It was later called Apollo, and featured operettas, operettas, and films. In 1922, it was renamed Cinema Rivoli and today it is called Hollywood Cinemas.

Santiago and its opening to foreigners

Currently, for foreigners, Santiago is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the center and there are many restored colonial houses. These properties are typically purchased by Americans and Canadians who want to reside in a safe and friendly place.

Some properties have also been remodeled for commercial purposes. In addition to designer stores, you will probably find exquisite restaurants.

Personalities born in Santiago neighborhood

Cradle of fighters, religious, politicians, artists and journalists, some famous people who were born in the neighborhood are Manuel Cepeda Peraza, governor of Yucatan in the 1860s, and the composer Guadalupe Trigo.

They also lived in the neighborhood Crescencio Carrillo and Ancona, Bishop of Yucatan, the painter Juan Gamboa Guzmán and the educator, writer and reporter Rodolfo Menéndez de la Peña.

Jacinto Canek, the great Mayan leader who, in 1761, rebelled against the Spanish also lived in the Santiago neighborhood. and that ended up being sacrificed in the public square as a lesson for the indigenous population. The same fate ran Francisco Uc, also a neighbor of the neighborhood, who actively participated in the caste war, during the 19th century.

What to do in the neighborhood of Santiago Mérida

Santiago is a perfect place to walk, tour and get lost in its streets. In front of the church there is a market that sells fruits and vegetables, meats and a large selection of flowers. There are also a variety of gastronomic venues and shops.

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A great attraction is the playground. It has a beautiful water source surrounded by trees that provide shade and a large concrete area that is used repeatedly to ride a skateboard and as a dance floor, since On Tuesday nights the Santiago Mérida park is transformed to the rhythm of live music.

Musical Remembranzas are a classic on Tuesday nights in the Barrio de Santiago. Its origin is more than four decades old and it is a public event well loved by the neighbors and a tourist attraction for many foreigners.

Santiago neighborhood
Yucatan architecture.

The musical appointment begins at 8:30 pm and brings together people of different ages who dance, for several hours, to the rhythm of cha-cha, mambo, salsa and other Latin dances. 

The architectural heritage is another bulwark in the Santiago Mérida neighborhood. Two large schools, one public and the other private, were built as landmarks during the Porfiriato at the beginning of the 20th century.

We are talking about the Nicolás Bravo elementary school and the American School that are distinguished by their beautiful neoclassical style.

And if you like old buildings, be sure to photograph the Ministry of Health, which is another of the most beautiful properties in the neighborhood.

Finally, visit the Centennial Zoo and the Natural History Museum. These spaces are excellent to spend a day with the family.

10 Oddities and curiosities of the neighborhood

  • Pay attention! It is said that when Charlotte of Hamburg visited Merida Indicator signs were made to mark each language. Many of them were placed in the Santiago neighborhood, every 4 kilometers. They still survive on some streets.
  • Did you know that in the park there is a bust of General Santos Degollado Sánchez? This hero lived between 1811 and 1861 and was Benito Juárez's Cabinet Minister of the Interior.
  • A refreshing walk. If you walk down Calle 72 you will find the building where the Sidra Pino soft drink worked, this drink was very popular on Yucatecan tables during the last century.
  • More than 40 years of music. The popular Musical Remembranzas, which take place on Tuesday nights in the Barrio de Santiago, have been held since 1984. Since then, Banda el Recuerdo have been in charge of musicalizing the nights of dance and live music.
  • A tree with history. In the former Montejo building, now Remate de Montejo, there was an oak tree. According to legend, there, Salvador Alvarado used to hang thieves of the time.
  • Myth or Reality? The neighborhood is the scene of several stories. One of them tells that in the courtyard of a house a horse belonging to the rider who tried to assassinate the governor D. Lucas de Gálvez was buried and Montes de Oca, in 1792.
  • A name of conquest. The Santiago neighborhood owes its name to Santiago, Apostle of Spain. Thus the conquerors named it after dominating the city.
  • Buried heart Did you know that a heart is buried in the church of Santiago?  Well, it belongs to Fray Luis de Piña y Mazo, one of the first bishops of Yucatan. He died in 1795. This is announced by a stone tablet.
  • Religion and rebellion. In the old church in the Santiago neighborhood, there was an open chapel. In the past, a stone plaque was placed to indicate that the city's first mass was celebrated there. The plaque also adds that the count was destroyed in 1916 by the caste war.
  • Yucatecan Theater Circus. The oldest meridians probably remember this. It was called Circo Teatro Yucateco and it was the favorite place to see circus shows, plays, and even bullfights.

Other neighborhoods in Mérida

snack
In the surroundings of the historic center and the neighborhoods of Mérida, you can find canteens and snack bars.

St. Lucia

Known for its church, which dates from 1620, this area of the city is located near the Santiago neighborhood.

It stands out for its dynamism and first-class restaurants. In front of the church, there are numerous places to enjoy the best dishes of Yucatecan and international food. Some examples are Rosa Sur 32 °, Apoala, La Recova, Peruano, Bryan's Burger Bar.

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If you visit this neighborhood, be sure to try all the sweetness that Ki'XOCOLATL offers, one of the most important artisan chocolate shops in the city. Also, don't forget to take a picture of the giant confident chairs found in the park.

 And if what you want is to listen to good music, every Thursday at 9:00 pm you can liven up your ears with the best Yucatan trova musicians.

Finally, Sundays are for tianguis. If you want to buy some crafts, without a doubt, the Barrio de Santa Lucía is a good place. In their stalls you can buy pieces of different materials made by Yucatecan artisans.

Saint Ana

Another neighborhood, located near the arrival of Santiago and the downtown area, is Santa Ana.

In addition to being known for its great tranquility, it houses a beautiful church, which was built in 1729.

You can visit it during the day, although at night it looks very beautiful with its old illuminated facade.

The interior of the church is very simple. A curious data: its old bell has the best sound in all of Merida.

Next to the church you will find the Mercado de Santa Ana. This place is perfect for taste exquisite snacks and dishes of Yucatecan food.

Santa Ana is also highly frequented for its art galleries such as Nahualli, SoHo Galleries and La Sala. In addition, there are several cultural centers and cafes.

 Enhanced

Mejorada was in the past an important center for trade in Mérida.

In this neighborhood you can visit a temple and a former convent from the 17th century, which now houses the Faculty of Architecture of the Autonomous University of Yucatan.

The city's first railroad track was placed in its park in 1870. You can also appreciate the Dragon Barracks, where a school currently operates.

Mejorada is a neighborhood with several museums. If you are visiting the neighborhood, discover the Montes Molina House Museum and the Yucatecan Song Museum.

Head to the old train station and admire the imposing building of the Yucatan Superior School of Arts.

Are you ready to visit the Santiago neighborhood? Do not miss this neighborhood of Mérida and go ahead and get to know some of its closest neighborhoods. What are you waiting for?

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