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Mérida, Venezuela

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Inside Mérida Cathedral, VenezuelaInside Mérida Cathedral, Venezuela
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authorshipPedro Gutiérrez
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Mérida, whose full name is Santiago de los Caballeros de Mérida, is a city in the Venezuelan Andes. Located on the western part of the country, it covers 59.39 sq km (22.9 sq mi) and has a population of 200,000 people (2011 estimate). It also serves as the state capital of Mérida State.

Mérida is 1,600 m (5,249 ft) above sea level. It is at the base of the massive bulk of Pico Bolívar, the tallest mountain in Venezuela. The city is within a valley carved by the Chama River, between two mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada de Mérida to the southeast and the Sierra La Culata to the northwest.

Due to its high elevation, Mérida enjoys a significantly cooler climate compared to the cities in the Venezuelan lowlands. Temperatures in Mérida range between 18°C and 24°C, with the average hoveing around 22°C (72°F). The population growth, which brought increased pollution has caused a rise in temperature, but Mérida is still cooler than other major Venezuelan cities.

Plaza Bolívar, MéridaPlaza Bolívar, Mérida
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The history of Mérida goes back to 1558, when it was established by Juan Rodríguez Suárez. He named it after the city of Mérida in Spain. He was not authorized to found a town, and the action caused the New Granadian authorities to send Juan de Maldonado to arrest him. Maldonado relocated the citysome 30 km to the north, to its present site. Maldonado renamed it San Juan de las Nieves, and subsequently renamed it again, to Santiago de los Caballeros (St James of the Knights).

Visiting Mérida

As there are no civilian airport in Mérida, you are limited to taking the bus. There are services from Caracas, Maracay and other major cities.

Places of Interest in Mérida

  1. Cathedral of Mérida
    A minor basilica built in the Baroque style, resembling the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain.
  2. Iglesia de Milla
    Originally constructed in the 18th century and rebuilt in 1907 following an earthquake, this is one of the oldest churches in Mérida.
  3. Mérida Botanical Garden
    A 40-hectare garden with a vast collection of plants and trees.
  4. Mérida Cable Car
    A popular tourist attraction linking the central quarter of Mérida with the Sierra Nevada.
  5. Plaza Bolívar
    The main square of Mérida, surrounded by some of its most important civic buildings.
  6. Plaza Monumental Román Eduardo Sandia
    This is Mérida's bullfighting arena built in 1967.

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