Mérida, Yucatán — The inner workings of the Cathedral is off limits again, with tours been suspended until further notice, INAH has announced.
In the last year, about 2,000 tourists have been guided through the “belly” of Mérida’s iconic Cathedral of San Ildefonso, which was erected between 1562 and 1598, making it the oldest —and probably one of the most fragile — on the mainland of the Americas.
Historian and guide Ángel Gutiérrez Romero said that the diocese is working with INAH — the national historic preservation authority — to ensure that visits are lawful and do not jeopardize the building.
It was exciting news in March of last year when the tours began. For 50 pesos, the tour included the choir loft, the north bell tower and parts of the roof — all previously off limits.
Occupying the former site of a Maya temple, the Cathedal’s relatively plain façade gives way to riches within. You won’t need a tour guide to find the painting of the Maya ruler, Titul-Kiú, shown visiting conquistador Francisco Montejo in Tihó, is one of the first things visitors will notice.
Also, the Chapel of the Christ of the Blisters (Capilla del Cristo de las Ampollas) contains its 16th-century woodcarvings famous for the blisters left after the wood was charred during a fire. It is said to be the only object to have survived the fire that destroyed the church of Ichmul — though it was blackened and blistered from the heat.
Part of the cathedral since 1645, the relics here are the subject of special celebrations held each October.
The cathedral’s interior grand, but considered relatively plain. Its rich ornamentation was stripped away by angry anti-clerical citizens during the Mexican Revolution.