The “barrios magicos” of San Sebastian and La Ermita are some of Merida’s oldest neighborhoods and you feel the history in the air as you walk down the brick laden streets. The stories of love, passion, betrayal and the mundane in and outs of life permeate every wall and street corner that have seen generations move though the area for over 250 years. In these venerable “magical neighborhoods” of Merida the streets, old shops, parks and eateries are a wonderland for the astute observer and those who find beauty in imperfection, transience, and the deep rooted history that emanates from the sidewalks.
These neighborhoods are a perfect place to get the real essence of what Merida was in its post-colonial years and to see the living traditions of Yucatan. From the religious holidays and processions through the streets, the mom and pop stores, to the famous black recado lechon tortas and tacos being served up in front of the Ermita Bakery (Calle 77 y 64a), these barrios are fascinating.
So what are some places we love to visit as curious culture seekers? In the true nature of preserving history, San Sebasian and La Ermita have become a bit of a hub for cool items of antiques.
Where to go for interesting antique shopping?
casa mo outlet (Calle 70 x 77 & 79)
Casa mo outlet is definitely a spot to hit up. It’s a furniture store where you can find exceptional and rare treasures from the mid-century Modern Mexico Era (1945-1970’s more or less). Alfredo, owner and antique dealer has a keen eye for mid century design and has been a collector for years, buying most of his pieces in Mexico City and shipping them to Yucatan–although lately he has been finding some interesting furniture and decor here in Yucatan as well. He will both restore the furniture or decor or sell them as is. Most items come completely intact.
casa mo has two storefronts:
Casa mo Gallery on Calle 62 x 49 where you can find designer one of a kind collectors pieces by designers such as Don Shoemaker, Michael Van Beuren, Eugenio Escudero and on occasion even Clara Porset or Luis Barragan.
Casa mo Outlet a gem is tucked into a house from the 19th century on Calle 70 #572e x 77 y 79, in this “barrio mágico” of San Sebastian. Here you will find mostly mid century furniture and decor from unknown designers; hence the name “outlet”, the pieces are more accessible to a wider public. You will find tables, chairs, headboard, sideboards, cabinets, doors, light fixtures, lamps, and lots of intriguing signature pieces. The owner also has a great eye for Mexican ceramic pieces or exotic rugs which, if you are lucky, you might find in the mix as well.
Antiguedades El Mamey (Calle 75 y 72 on the corner)
You can’t miss this store, because it’s in a beautiful corner house across from the San Sebastian park. It has an incredible patio area and is absolutely filled to the brim with antiques, mainly found in Yucatan. The antiques found here can span from turn of the century European furniture and decor, to Spanish colonial religious iconography, chandeliers, wrought iron doors and gates, paintings, 20th century porcelain dolls, old coke bottles, and more. You can really get lost here for hours if you are an antiques aficionado.
This store opened at the beginning of 2000, although Julio, the owner and antique dealer, started this business in 1997. He started buying metals by the kilo. But when you buy metals by the kilo here, inevitably lots of objects that contain metal are thrown into the mix. He started separating out some of the interesting things he found. He always had a fascination for classic objects, especially being from this historic neighborhood and he would find some really cool treasures in the metal lots. Little by little his collection grew and he decided to open an antique shop. He started buying furniture that was more than 150 years old, and now buys many different vintage items including trendy items from the 1950’s or 60’s.
Majikal Shops "Las Chacharas" (Calle 66 #584 x 77 y 75)
Las Chacharas has only been in the neighborhood for about 3 months and is a great addition to the antique scene. It has an eclectic mix of furniture and items found around the world from chandeliers, to furniture to masks, textiles and Turkish rugs. They also have quite a nice selection of artisan crafts from Mexico including Talavera tiles and functional ceramics from Puebla, Oaxaca and other Mexican states.
The owners, who I have not met yet, I am told are travelers and collectors and have bed and breakfasts called Majikal and have filled them with antique collectibles and artisan pieces. The overflow of the items have created a perfect opportunity for their store: Las Chacharas. It’s very worth a visit. You can find some real treasures here, plus they have boxes of Talavera tiles, just in case someone might want some to create the dream kitchen! (or my dream Mexican kitchen).
Arte y Mas (Calle 64a x75)
This small store front belongs to a couple who have lived in the area for years collecting and creating art. After the pandemic Nelson, who was an antique collector and dealer, had to reduce his inventory to provide more space for his house and family, but he still has some interesting artifacts such as bottles, religious iconography and books. And his wife is a painter and uses recycled wood to paint iconic Merida scenes, such as doors, churches, fruit and the beautiful people of Merida. If you are in this Barrio Magico, it’s worth a stop by to check out what they have.
Martin’s House Calle (64a x 79 y 77a)
Martin’s antique and restoration shop is a bit harder to find because it literally just looks like his house and he doesn’t hold regular hours–none that I can figure out anyway. However, he does great restoration work on furniture and I have found some really interesting things on his shelves and in his store. He has window frames, furniture, paintings, tiles, wooden objects, religious iconography, kitchenware, books, wrought iron doors, and I even saw an old fiberglass boat bow that the creative mind could do wonders with. It’s fun to browse around.