Where do you think you’re going? In the early colonial days, Mérida’s streets confused many of its inhabitants. If you invited a friend to your cantina on Calle 60 at 65, they might never arrive. The only sure way to direct someone to a destination was with landmarks, like the main plaza, a church, or a park.
Taking their cue, shop owners and tavern operators turned their establishments into landmarks. Using memorable names of people, places, events, or animals, they made statues, effigies or murals depicting them on their buildings. Businessmen would also build on street corners because they are easy to find. Before long, people were navigating around Mérida by following these corner landmarks.
Over the years, the importance of the corner landmarks outlasted many of the establishments that created them. Murals were painted over, statues collapsed. The symbols for navigating Mérida were in danger of being lost. City government stepped in and began making the distinctive red and white plaster plaques you’ll find at many corners today. As you walk the streets of Mérida, you can discover over 100 corner plaques. Each tells a unique story about Mérida.
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