"Venezuela's University Town in the Andes" Top 5 Page for this destination Mérida by atufft

Mérida Travel Guide: 117 reviews and 318 photos

Merida is perched on a ledge below Pico Bolivar

At over 16,000 ft, Pico Bolivar is obviously a mountain of consider height, and so it's stunning to realize that within a gondola's reach of it's top, and about a mile above sea level is a city of some 200,000 people. This capitol of the state of the same name is crammed between two mountain ranges on ledge above an alpine river, and is bisected by two other rivers. The city has a long and proud history of relative productivity in a year-round climate that is significantly cooler than other parts of Venezuela. The University, second oldest and founded in 1785, has a considerable reputation for quality in Venezuela. The most park studded city in Venezuela, Merida maintains 35 parks. Earthquakes and wars of independence have taken the toll on the city, but it cultivates a pleasant, quiet grace with plenty of cultural activities.

Limited flat land makes for remarkable building.

Within the mountain valleys surrounding Merida, Venezuela's most productive agriculture thrives. Coffee plantations, sugar cane, flowers, especially the frailejón which grows only in the altiplano areas of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador and bloom in November and December. Tropical plants, palm trees, citrus, strawberries, orchids, and the Golden Rain tree grow well here. Many of these farms lie along a fertile valley, through which the highway from Caracas threads it's way. There's also Truchaculture, or trout farms that provide a local favorite freshwater fish. However, many farms rise up the slopes, as does the residential housing within Merida itself. As the altitude climbs, so does the fog. In the neighborhoods that rise up, the trees hang with moss and orchids.

Merida is a sophisticated city...

Merida has plenty of cultural activities, and shopping is good. The cuisine of Merida is distinctive for having trigo (wheat) arepas, rather than the ubiquitous corn style found else where in Venezuela. Again, mountain farmed trout, called "trucha" locally, and various types of soups are commonly served in the restaurants, that cater to those living in a cooler climate. The city is clean and residents can be found walking the streets wearing the pura lana (pure wool) sweaters, another contrast with the rest of Venezuela. Merida is a good base for mountaineers interested in the National Parks nearby.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sophisticated Cool Contrast with the Tropical Attitude in the Rest of Venezuela
  • Cons:Somewhat of a Distant Destination from Caracas
  • In a nutshell:Merida is a unique part of Venezuela that Shouldn't Be Missed.
  • Last visit to Mérida: Jul 1995
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (9)

Comments (4)

  • Dulebg's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2007 at 9:55 AM

    Excellent photos really!!! I injoyed looking them and reading your stories. Venezuela is definitely the place I'd like to visit some day.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2007 at 11:38 PM

    Great additional tips. Looks like it was a really nice adventure for you. Yes, I would like to taste that Andean food. Cheers, SL

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2007 at 11:29 AM

    an interesting page and excellent pics ! ...and El Molino Breakfast makes me really hungry...

  • carolinaEspada's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2006 at 2:04 AM

    It might sound... selfish-egocentric-show off... or whatever you might call it... BUT I REAAAALY LIKE READING ABOUT MY COUNTRY from your perspective. Hello to the family, C


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