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Merida Cathedral

Officially known as the Cathedral of San Ildefonso, this grand church was built between 1561 and 1598, on the site of a Mayan temple (and adding insult to injury by using its stones as part of the construction material.). Merida’s cathedral is the second-oldest in the Americas after the one Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It was designed and built by the same architect who constructed the even larger one in Mexico City.

This cathedral has a far different look than most of the “shock and awe” churches of New Spain as it was ransacked and robbed of its treasures during the Mexican Revolution, in 1915. This makes it a unique one to visit for its spare elegance and structural beauty. It is dominated by stone columns, arches, and the crucifix behind the alter,  a twenty-five foot tall birch wood sculpture.

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