Merida, the state capital of Yucatan, was founded in 1542 on the vestiges of a former Mayan city that was known as T'Ho. It is called "the White City" for the white limestone blocks that were part of ancient T'Ho's construction; these can still be seen, embedded in the Colonial structures. Merida is peppered with traces of a rich historical and cultural heritage, and examples of Colonial-era architecture remain well preserved in the city's historical center. The city's combination of unique hotels, stunningly renovated haciendas, and its proximity to some of Mexico's most important Mayan archaeological sites have turned this city into a favored destination for international event organizers. Along with a state-of-the-art convention and exhibition center, Yucatan XXI Century, Merida meeting venues have played host to such international events as the WILD9 Wilderness Congress and the International Physics Olympiad.
Merida is the most populated city on the Yucatan peninsula. Thanks to its important international airport, Manuel Crescencio Rejon International Airport (MID);and Mexico's well-maintained highway system, Merida is a highly accessible both domestically and from abroad. As the bus transportation hub for the whole peninsula, Merida also has several bus terminals, which offer ground transportation services to and from many major destinations in Mexico.
Hotel venues in Merida account for 8,986 rooms in 157 hotels; there are also more than 87 assembly halls with nearly 130,000 square feet of space. Unique venues in Merida include more than 165 renovated historical haciendas; the city's largest venue, the Convention Center Yucatan "Siglo XXI" (21st Century), can hold events for up to 6,500 participants. (The center has nearly 82,408 square feet of space for conventions and congresses, spread out over 6 event halls, as well as 83,862 square feet of space for exhibitions.)
An alternative space for events and small conferences is the Fiesta Americana Merida. This 5 star hotel can host conferences of up to 1,140 participants and offers 13 halls for events and meetings, complemented by its business center and catering services. The Fiesta Americana Merida offers 377 guest rooms and suites, as well as a restaurant, two bars, a spa, a gym, a tennis court and parking for up to 250 vehicles.
Merida's downtown is built around a large plaza and is characterized by Colonial-era buildings and pastel, European-style mansions. The city is host to a municipal market, where artisan crafts and fresh produce can be bought, as well as several interesting museums, including an archeology and anthropology museum and a contemporary art museum. Additionally, Merida makes a great starting point for visiting the nearby Mayan archaeological sites of Uxmal, Dibilchaltun and Chichen Itza, as well as the incredible cenotes (or "sinkholes")—caves that are filled with the crystal clear fresh water of the peninsula's subterranean rivers..