Do you think of colonial architecture when you think of Mexico? If you’re like most people, you might not even consider that Mexico had their own colonial architecture, quite separate from the American colonial style. However, this type of architecture has a long and detailed history in Mexico, especially in Merida. Educate yourself on this rich culture and you’ll find that there is more than meets the eye with these beautiful homes. This colonial style can still run deep in the Mexican culture and is especially evident when cities are planned and constructed. Although Mexico is changing, they still have ties to their rich past. The people of Merida embrace the colonial history and work to save these beautiful houses and make them more modern in a wonderfully historical way.
First, let’s think about what colonial architecture really means. The colonial style is heavy and well-built, mostly because that is exactly what was required in the Mexican environment. Don’t think that these buildings are eyesores though! Many people describe Mexican colonial homes as “one with nature”. The white stucco walls and red tile roofs complement the environment in which they have been built. They were also built with a purpose: to be strong and divert the hot sun away from the house. The white walls are perfect for keeping the house cool during the days, but the thick walls capture the heat to later release its gentle warmth into the house when it gets cold at night. One of the most wonderful parts of the colonial style is the inner courtyard of the house. This open space allowed families to keep their kitchen cool during the hot days by cooking outside instead. They also can boast spectacular gardens, which are the perfect place to relax. These houses are built beautifully, but they are also specifically designed to help the people who live in them.
Why is this colonial style so prevalent in Merida? Merida is in the Yucatan Peninsula on the east coast of Mexico. This was one of the first places to be colonized by the Spaniards, and that Spanish influence is quite evident. The Spaniards used their knowledge of how to build the houses in Spain and tried to apply that knowledge here in Mexico as well. However, they realized that it was a different environment. They used the materials available and took the weather and heat into account. The native influence must also be taken into account, though you’ll find that the Spanish did not actively try to incorporate any Mayan styles into the new houses. This mix of trials and errors resulted in the Mexican colonial architectural style that we know today. They have lasted for years due to their strong walls. However, there is no way to keep these houses from naturally deteriorating in the hot sun and weather. Therefore, some have been neglected and are in bad repair.
However, many people have taken to renovating the old colonial houses in Merida, Mexico. The people have realized that these buildings are a significant part of their history. There is a certain pride in owning a home that is so old and has so much built into its past. People have been buying these houses up in order to save them and, in part, make them their own in a more modern way. The result of this renovation is a lovely mix of new and old, historical and modern. Now younger families can enjoy knowing that they own part of the vibrant history of Mexico. Even foreigners have been buying these houses as well in order to make summer homes or resell at a higher price. Merida has always been an exciting place, but this new interest in the colonial style and preserving the houses is bringing a new life to the residents of Merida.
Want to get involved with Mexican colonial architecture? Travel to Merida, Mexico, and take in the sights of their lovely homes. You can see old colonial houses in their original states, but many have been retouched and reworked. These renovated colonial homes are truly beautiful. If you get a chance to tour one of these homes, take the opportunity! It’s a wonderful chance to see how the old styles can be updated to look modern with that specific touch of history to them. But what if you’re interested in buying one of these historical colonial homes? Do your research and find out what you should look for in traditional colonial architecture. Make sure you take at least a short trip to see the house for yourself. While you’re there, soak in the rich culture and learn the history of Merida. These colonial houses are closely tied in with Mexican history. Even if you don’t intend on buying, you can certainly find a traditional home or hotel to stay in as a guest. It won’t be something you forget.