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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Santa Lucía: Park in the heart of Mérida’s Centro

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Veronica Garibayhttp://yucatanmagazine.com
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

When walking around the city of Mérida, Santa Lucía is one of the Centro’s most Instagram-ready spots.

Giant “Sillas confidentes” in Santa Lucía park. Photo: Verónica Garibay

In the middle of the park sits a giant “confidente” chair, which has become a popular photo spot for locals and tourists alike. Combined with its unbeatable location and beautiful surroundings, it is no surprise that Santa Lucía has become one of Mérida’s most iconic parks.

Santa Lucía Park, located at the intersection of Calle 60 and Calle 55. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Located in the historic center of the capital, it is the oldest in the city, along the main square or “Plaza Grande.” It sits at the intersection of Calle 60 and Calle 55, three blocks north of the Cathedral de San Ildefonso.

Calle 60, leading up to Santa Lucía and, eventually, to the main square of the city. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Santa Lucía dates from the founding of the city itself, in 1542.

Decor outside one of Santa Lucía’s shops. Photo: Verónica Garibay

When the initial layout for Mérida was drawn by the Spaniards, they chose to leave a space three blocks north of the main plaza to serve as a small square for the slaves that were brought by the Spaniards for their service.

Terrace of “La Tratto,” one of the restaurants located right in the heart of the park. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Santa Lucía Church

The conqueror and encomendero Pedro García built a small church to provide religious service to the fledgling neighborhood. His project was completed in 1575.

Front view of Santa Lucía’s church. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The southern part of the atrium of the small church was used as a cemetery, an area that functioned as such until 1821. 

Detail of the facade, with a stained glass mural on top of the entrance. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The church underwent several expansions and renovations until it reached its present form, around 1760. Today, it has a rectangular entrance framed in quarry stone, stained glass, and a belfry, or bell tower.

Inside the chapel of Santa Lucía. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Although the area immediately surrounding it is now busy with the hustle and bustle of the Centro, inside it is still surprisingly tranquil. Nowadays it’s a popular location for weddings, baptisms, and quinceañeras. 

Once you’re done visiting this lovely little church, you can walk a few meters back into Santa Lucía Park, also known as “Parque de Los Héroes”—Hero’s park.

View of the park, from the church’s entrance. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Trova Yucateca- A Musical Park

In 1804, Governor Benito Pérez Valdelomar transformed the square, which had been abandoned, into a colorful and pleasant plaza. 

Plaque commemorating 55 years of serenades in the park. Photo: Verónica Garibay

In the 20th century, the park became a space to honor musicians and composers dedicated to Yucatecan trova. Since 1965, on Thursdays, a corner of the park is transformed into a stage for traditional Yucatecan serenades.

Busts in honor of musicians and composers of Yucatecan trova. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Although the COVID-19 pandemic changed the dynamic for a while, now we can see trovadores starting to trickle back in the plaza once again. 

Detail of the tables and busts on the stage in Santa Lucía park. Photo: Verónica Garibay

On Thursday nights, at 9, well-known trios, the Orquesta Típica de Yucalpetén, and groups of jaraneros, perform popular folkloric songs and dances.

Seats from which to enjoy the musical show. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Wine and dine in Santa Lucía

Aside from being a wonderful outdoor venue to enjoy music and culture, Santa Lucía has become a great hub for gastronomy, with a wide range of restaurants featuring Mediterranean, Peruvian, Italian, fusion, and Mexican cuisine. 

Restaurant corridor in Santa Lucía. Photo: Verónica Garibay

If risotto or gourmet burgers are not what you’re looking for, just across the plaza sits the famous Chaya Maya, as well as many other local eateries to enjoy Yucatecan cuisine. 

A second restaurant corridor, perpendicular to the first. Across the street, a Peruvian restaurant and the Yucatecan favorite: La Chaya Maya. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Thanks to its long history, charm, and ample selection of cafés, restaurants, and shops, it’s no surprise that Santa Lucía and its surroundings have become a coveted neighborhood in the city. 

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