Merida Cathedral | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Merida Cathedral

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

About Merida Cathedral

Merida Cathedral, known locally as Catedral de San Ildefonso, in Mexico is a sixteenth century cathedral built by Spanish colonialists on the site of a former Mayan city, T’ho, using stone from the Mayan pyramids.

Constructed between 1561 and 1598, Merida Cathedral was the first such cathedral to be completed on mainland Americas, and one of only two to be built in Latin America in the 16th century.

The interior pays homage to the relationship between Spanish and Maya heritage – the large crucifix is known as a Christ of Unity (Cristo de la Unidad) and is meant to symbolise reconciliation between Spanish and Mayan leaders, and paintings depict indigenous chiefs and Spanish leaders paying respects to one another, as well as showing them as allies.
Much of the original ornate interior decoration was destroyed during the Mexican revolution: the Spanish royal coat of arms on the cathedral façade was damaged and later buried under concrete during a wave of anti-Spanish sentiment in the 19th century.