At the northern end of 5a Av is La Merced – a striking yellow building trimmed with plaster filigree. The squat, thick-walled structure was built to withstand earthquakes, and three centuries after its construction it remains in good shape. Only the church is still in use; a candlelit procession, accompanied by bell ringing and firecrackers, starts and ends there on the last Thursday evening of each month.

Inside the monastery ruins is a fountain 27m in diameter, said to be the largest in Hispanic America. It’s in the shape of a water lily (traditionally a symbol of power for Maya lords), and lily motifs also appear on the church’s entrance arch. Go upstairs for a bird’s-eye view of the fountain and the town.


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