In recent years, La Mejorada “barrio” (neighborhood) has come to life with bars and restaurants, cultural centers, museums, public offices, music schools, and university campuses, converting this corner of the city into a cultural neighborhood with its own personality and identity.
Go to the center of the park at the corner of Calle 59 and 50, Centro, and stand beside the Niños Héroes (child heroes) statue; from here you can see on the east side the “dragon” arch and the ex “dragon” barracks, today the Centro Cultural del Niño Yucateco (cultural center of the Yucatecan child); and on the same side is the architecture faculty at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY); then, just a few steps from Calle 57, the Museo de la Canción Yucateca (museum of Yucatecan song); on the south side, Escuela de Música del Estado (state music school) and the offices of Desarrollo Económico del Ayuntamiento de Mérida (economic development of the City of Mérida); and on the west you will see the Museo de Arte Popular (folk art museum) and various restaurants.
The church and ex convent which are found here are one of the two sets of church + convent built by the Franciscans in Mérida; the other was La Asunción, from the 16th C., which has disappeared. This old building used to be known as “Del Tránsito de Nuestra Señora o de La Mejorada” and is one of the oldest buildings in the city, from the 17th C. Today it serves as the parish and is almost intact, with a lovely cupula over a false drum, one of the first on the peninsula. Inside, at the rear, you will see the Virgen del Carmen, to whom this church is dedicated today.
The convent was restored and modified, and then became the current site of the architectural faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY).
Did you see the yellow building beside the church? Originally it was a Franciscan hospital and then a military barracks. Today it is the headquarters of the Centro Cultural del Niño Yucateco (CECUNY), although it is popularly known as “ex cuartel de dragones” (ex dragon barracks).
On the side you will see a grand arch, and another further on. The first is called “arco de dragones” (dragon’s arch) and it is considered one of the three oldest monuments in the city (1725 – 1733). Perhaps its builder visualized the arch to be the door to the city, but in reality it never served this purpose. The three arches which have survived in Mérida, it seems, are the only of their kind in all of México.
Here in Mejorada you can also visit the Museo de Arte Popular, where you will see unique items from different indigenous cultures of our country; and a few steps away, the Museo de la Canción Yucateca, a great treasure containing the history of our music, considered cultural heritage of our state.
There is so much to see in this “barrio”! Put on your walking shoes and get ready to fill yourself with culture, history, and flavor.
Editorial based on the audioguías by Ayuntamiento de Mérida)
Photo by Laura Pasos for Yucatán Today’s use
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