Discover the Rich History of Pasaje Picheta in Mérida

June 10, 2024

Located in the heart of Mérida, Pasaje Picheta has a fascinating history that has seen it transform from a refuge for prisoners to a vibrant cultural hub. Today, it offers a vastly different appearance from its early days, now a beautifully remodeled space teeming with life and activity.

The name Pasaje Picheta honors the renowned cartoonist Gabriel Vicente Gahona Pasos, affectionately known as “Picheta.” Picheta was a pivotal figure in Yucatán’s artistic community, founding the first engraving teaching academy and significantly promoting the arts. He also served as Mérida’s mayor in 1880, solidifying his legacy as one of the most important figures of his time.

In 1639, the corridors of what is now Pasaje Picheta were part of the Mérida town hall and the public jail, remaining so for over 134 years. In 1869, the property was acquired by Rafael Albertos, who modified its exterior and added new rooms. The central courtyard later housed the “Teatro Iris,” which was renamed “Olimpia,” and the “Independencia” hall.

As the years passed, this historic site became the “Novedades” cinema, which operated for a significant period before being abandoned. In April 1991, the Land Use Planning Commission of the State of Yucatán (Cousey) took possession and restored the site. By 1993, it had been transformed into the Pasaje Picheta we know today, featuring the gallery Arte 1010, cafes, artisan shops, Picheta restaurant (which has a great view of the Cathedral), and other small businesses both inside and out.

The courtyard, once a stage for zarzuelas and regional theater, now hosts troubadour performances in the afternoons, where visitors can enjoy live music while sipping coffee or savoring a delicious dish. The walls are adorned with murals depicting the life of old Mérida, and an exhibition hall showcases the works of local and national artists. On the upper floor, you’ll find several administrative offices.

Pasaje Picheta is conveniently located in the historic center of Mérida, beneath the Government Palace and adjacent to the main square. The art gallery is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM, making it an accessible and enriching destination for both locals and tourists alike.

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