Discovering the Mayan Culture

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BY RODRIGO LABARDINI

AMBASSADOR OF MEXICO IN AZERBAIJAN

The development of tourism in any part of the world is directly related to its history, traditions, and surroundings. Culture is the way we perceive reality with the elements provided by nature. Hence, the narratives carried through generations and the antiquity of the area enriches the ways of life, while the environment molds the character of its inhabitants and gives life to future generations. Today, we open the doors to the Mayan Zone, direct inheritor of the rich Mayan civilization. The amazing nature, mesmerizing smooth sandy beaches, enchanting landscapes, beguiling archeology, astounding architecture, and luscious and succulent gastronomy differ from the rest of Mexico. All of these aspects make the Mayan Zone, Riviera Maya, one of the top tourist destinations in the world. A place to uncover every time you go.

The pre-Hispanic period in Mexico is characterized by its rich, vast, and diverse cultures and civilizations (Aztec, Maya, Olmec, and Zapotec, to name a few). The roots of numerous current scientific approaches come from this period. The architecture surprises by its greatness and originality. The culture, as well as traditions and customs of the indigenous peoples, retained their unchanging values till our times. These, and the other factors, made Mexico one of the six most visited countries in the world in 2018 with over 42 million international tourists.

The Riviera Maya, as the Mayan Route is frequently called in Mexico, is part of the tourist map in the country. It is distinguished by its picturesque landscapes, admirable beaches, majestic pyramids, numerous archaeological sites, national parks, natural resources, and many other elements. The Mayan Route covers five states in Southern Mexico: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Yucatan. However, with valleys, forests, cenotes(underground lakes), jungles, and more, they differ from each other and offer different opportunities to their visitors.

Let’s uncover the Riviera Maya together!

Campeche

Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful capitals of the country is Campeche. Similar to İchari Shahar, Campeche City is next to the sea (the Gulf of Mexico), surrounded by walls (to defend from pirates), and was included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO (ten Mexican cities are World Heritage sites). The State has 17 archaeological sites, among them Calakmul, the largest Mayan city to ever be discovered.

Its gastronomy is a fusion of Mayan, Spanish, and Arabic food. Its beaches invite water sports, including windsurfing and diving. If this were not enough, its beautiful 18th-century gardens, kiosks, and buildings make it feel like history has come back to life. Walking is the best way to appreciate the city.

Chiapas

Because of its location in the southern side of the country, Chiapas has, by itself, seven distinct ecosystems. This gives it a privileged geography that captivates both locals and foreigners. It allows one to discover its jungles, forests, and mangroves while they cross its rivers and waterfalls. The region’s natural beauties conquer your heart in an instant. While Chiapas is part of the Mayan World, it also ranks second in Mexico in terms of ethnic diversity. Its peoples, languages, and diverse and fascinating traditions transform you and take you to a mixture of the past and present from the moment you enter the state. While riding on the Grijalva River, you are enclosed in a canyon with walls almost 300 meters high!

Quintana Roo

Quintana Roo has a wide range of tourist attractions. Its Riviera is recognized worldwide for its paradisiacal landscapes, all types of activities, gastronomic offerings of vast proportions and tastes, and the unparalleled beauty of its Mayan monuments and pyramids. Quintana Roo has options for all kinds of travelers, from those who expect maximum luxury to those who prefer the simplest places in contact with nature. You can even visit Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

Tabasco

Known for its wide rivers, deep lagoons, and being the seat of Mexico’s oil industry, this destination offers a fascinating variety of cultural attractions and outdoor activities. Some of the various attractions include archaeological sites, extensive cocoa plantations, and picturesque colonial cities. Do not forget that Tabasco has high temperatures and the highest rainfall indicators in all of Mexico! Wear light and breathable clothes.

Yucatán

Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, emerged as the fusion of three main cultures: Mayan, Spanish, and Lebanese. This gives its architecture, gastronomy, and inhabitants a unique and palpable personality. Within this magical city, tradition and modernity combine and grow together. Impressive archaeological sites, colonial buildings, and modern buildings coexist in harmony.

Interesting aspects arise in Southern Mexico, such as clothing, food, and more. You will find diverse indigenous populations, speaking their own languages (Mexico has over 17 million indigenous persons, with 68 indigenous languages), and similar yet diverse weather and nature. People in the region eat different chilis that are different from the rest of Mexico, such as habanero, but wear similar clothing, such a guayabera (Mexican cotton-made shirt).

There is a whole new world to discover within Mexico.