Yes, Mérida is written in plural. There are four Méridas in the world! There is a Mérida in Europe, the Asiatic Mérida and the two Méridas of the Americas. This is why you will find Meritenses, Meridaños, and Meridanos, depending on which geographical area that they come from.
History tells us that in the year 25 BC, the Roman Emperor Augusto, also known as Octavio or Octaviano, gave the order to found Emerita Augusta so he could reward the soldiers for their efforts in the conquest of Spain, giving them plots of land and a place to live tranquilly for the rest of their lives. That’s where the name was born – from a fusion between the people: the Emeritos and its founder: Augusto. Emerita Augusta was soon raised to be the capital of the province Lusitanica. Today in Spain, Mérida is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura.
Let’s turn the page in history and we arrive to the XV century. Spain, in its search for new commercial routes, discovers America. From this moment on, the gestation and birth of the other Méridas takes place – in the Philippines, a city on the island Leyte; in Venezuela, a state and capital of the same name; and in Mexico, our beautiful city. Let’s take a look at the three cities we have mentioned: the one in Spain, the one in the Philippines and the one in Venezuela.
The diversity and greatness of its Roman constructions make it unique. It is difficult to find similar buildings except in Rome. In 1993 Mérida, Spain was named a Historical Heritage Archeological Site.
When you go walking through its streets you will see the prints left there by the old Emporium: the Roman Theater, the Amphitheater, the Roman Circus, the Forums, the Temple of the Diana, the Trojan Arch, the Roman bridges over the rivers Guadiana and Albarregas, the San Lazar aqueduct, the Los Milagros aqueduct, the Basilica House, the Roman House of the Amphitheater, and the Roman House of Mitreo among others.
The 52,000 Meritenses that live in the city (according to the 2004 census) enjoy a Mediterranean climate where the temperatures vary between cold winters (17º F) and hot, steamy summers with temperatures up to and passing 104º F. The town borders the small hills to the right of Guadiana which is 722 feet above sea level.
In 1543 the navigator Ruy Lopez de Villanueva disembarked onto the Isle of Leyte, which was later named Philipina, after the Spanish King Philip II, in the same way that many new cities were baptized with names brought from the homelands of the founders. It is this way another Mérida was born.
In 1565 the Monarch ordered the conquering of the island to use it as a base for their operations in Southeast Asia to consolidate business between Spain, America and Asia.
Up until 1821 the Philippines were administered from Mexico. During this time they were severely attacked by Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese and English pirates. It even got to the point that the English had control over the Philippines for a brief period of time.
Towards the end ofthe 19th century, independent revolutions flared up that ended with Jose Rival, their national hero, being freed. He was executed by the Spanish in 1896.
The archipelago known as the Philippine Islands passed into the hands of the United States in 1898 via the Paris Treaty, that ended the Spanish American War. As part of the same Treaty, other Spanish possessions, including the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam, were also ceded to the United States.
The complete name is Santiago de los Caballeros de Mérida. It was founded on October 9th, 1558 by Captain Juan Rodriguez Suarez, who named this place in honor of his homeland – the Mérida of Spain.
Using the northern part of South America as a point of reference, the mountain range of Mérida is where the Andes mountain range starts and goes through seven countries -Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
This city has the tallest and longest cableway in the world, made up of four cableways united in series, that are almost eight miles long (12.5 kilometers) and goes from the Barinitas station in the city of Mérida at 5,380 feet (a bit more than a mile) above sea level up to the Pico Espejo Station at 15,633 feet (3 miles.)
It is easy to recognize a Meridaño by their unmistakable rhythmic intonation and accent when they speak, and their respectful use of you. Plus,they boast that they possess the finest Spanish in all of Venezuela.
By Yurina Fernández Noa
Email: [email protected]
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