The Arcs of Merida were constructed around the year of 1690, under the
Government of General Juan Jose de Barcena. They were constructed to
delineate the center the capital from those "outside the walls" where
most of the natives lived, and to adorn the streets, and were intended
to be the gates for a wall around the core of the city.
Neighborhoods developed at the center and in the "suburbs." The center
with its Cathedral and government palaces was reserved for the Spanish.
Indigenous Mexicans brought from the central part of Mexico by the
Spanish occupied San Cristobal in the south. In the west was Santiago,
where Mayan domestic workers resided. In the north was Santa Lucia, home
to the Blacks and Mulattos.
As the city developed the street layout, with perfect parallels and
perpendiculars, was lost. Fearing loss of control, the government
planned a wall around the old city. But according to a publication
of the Museum of the City of Merida, the walls were never completed.
Three gates remain and can be seen at San Juan and along 50th
Street where 61st and 63rd Streets intersect. These gates are unique in
all of Mexico and well worth seeing.
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