(Merida, The Andes, Venezuela)
Culture buffs will be pleased to note that Merida is home to the most museums in any Venezuelan city, except its capital Caracas.
From an exceptional science and technology layout at the Museo de Ciencia y Tecnologia, to many aspects of the region's traditional Venezuelan arts and culture, Merida's museums enhance the city's reputation as a cultural centre. Those interested in the Venezuelan hero, Simon Bolivar, shouldn't miss the priceless historical documents in the library / museum which bears his name - the Biblioteca Bolivariana.
Casa de Cultura Juan Felix Sanchez
Address: Plaza Bolivar, Calle 23 Vargas, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 252 6101
Named in honour of a famous local artist who specialised in religious works, the Casa de Cultura Juan Felix Sanchez is located in a fine colonial mansion. A fascinating permanent exhibition of the region's folk art is displayed here, while the attraction is home to a foundation set up to benefit local artisans and artists. Sculptures, ceramics and paintings are all well represented, and workshops are often staged here.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:30 to 12:00, 14:30 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday - 09:00 to 17:00
Bolivar Library (Biblioteca Bolivariana)
Address: Avenida 3, Calle 19 / Calle 20, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 263 0814
This museum lies in the same building as the city's Cultural Centre. Close to a shady park, the modernist Biblioteca Bolivariana holds priceless records and artefacts associated with Simon Bolivar. Known as El Libertador, the great general was crucial to the independence from Spanish rule of several South American countries, including his birthplace, Venezuela
. Travelling exhibitions are also displayed here and the building's important library is famous.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 09:00 to 18:00, Sunday - 09:00 to 17:00
Archdiocesan Museum (Museo Arquidiocesana)
Address: Archbishop's Palace, Plaza Bolivar, Avenida 4 Simon Bolivar, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 252 1238
This museum is set in the imposing Archbishop's Palace
, close to the Plaza Bolivar, and displays many beautiful religious art works and artefacts. In addition, there are gifts from devotees, ancient bells, priestly vestments, coins, paintings and a mummified Amerindian. Also on display at the Museo Arquidiocesana are examples of fine gold work and an impressive number of religious paintings. Look out for the Ave Maria bell, which was once almost destroyed and is believed to be more than 1,100 years old, being the second-oldest bell in existence, anywhere in the world.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 11:30, 14:30 to 15:30, Saturday - 10:30 to 14:30
Museum of Archaeology (Museo Arqueologico)
Address: Plaza Bolivar, Corner Calle 23 Vargas / Avenida 3 Independencia, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0274 240 2344
Another interesting attraction set within the University of the Andes (Universidad de los Andes) building, the Museum of Archaeology stands just a minute or two from the Plaza Bolivar and showcases historic tools, a few pieces of beautiful jewellery and some ancient ceramics - the oldest of which date back around 50,000 years. Highlights are a well-preserved but headless mummy and a carefully reconstructed pre-Columbian grave. The building itself has an attractive and cool interior courtyard.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 08:00 to 12:00, 14:00 to 18:00
Xamu - Pueblo Indigena
Address: Via a Bailadores, Lagunillas, Venezuela, VE
Although often described as a theme park rather than an actual history museum, Xamu is a reconstruction of a typical indigenous village of the pre-Columbian era. It is based on the village where the first Spaniards arrived to found the city of Merida, which was moved in 1559 to El Punto (now Zumba). Authentic and with more than a nod to historic content and accuracy, Xamu makes for an interesting visit and lies just over 30 km / 19 miles to the south.
Open hours: daily
Museum of Science and Technology (Museo de Ciencia y Tecnologia)
Address: Avenida Andres Bello, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Housed on the site and in the buildings of an old sugar mill, Merida's Museum of Science and Technology offers a timeline beginning with prehistory and ending with computers. Covering a full 10 acres / 4 hectares of ground, this is a fascinating and comprehensive journey through time and invention. University students act as guides on subjects as varied as space travel, astronomy and dinosaurs. This attraction is a treat for kids, as well as adults of all ages.
Open hours: April to October, daily - 10:00 to 18:00; November to March, Saturday and Sunday - 10:00 to 18:00