Art and Culture: A Historical Overview of Mayan Civilization and Mexico

Mexico has long been a symbol of the idea of a new world. It is a country that has a rich history and culture, and which has enjoyed a long and important influence on other countries. Mexico is a country that has played an important role in shaping the history of the United States, and many of the most important events in Mexico’s history have had a profound impact on the American continents. 

Let’s have a look and enjoy different aspects of Mexican history and culture. 

The history of Mexico begins with the arrival of the first humans approximately 130,000 years ago. Some 20,000 years ago, they were replaced by the first complex civilization to develop in North America, that of the Olmecs. The Olmec civilization was later followed by the Zapotec civilization, which was founded in the Valley of Oaxaca. The Zapotecs were responsible for the building of the Monte Alban, the largest pre-Columbian city in Mesoamerica. The Zapotecs were eventually followed by the Maya, Mixtec and the Aztec civilizations, which were the most advanced Mesoamerican civilizations before the arrival of the Spanish.

Mexican culture is an enchanting blend of colorful art, food, and music. The country’s art and architecture are some of the most renowned in the world, from the Mesoamerican ruins of Chichen Itza to modern-day attractions such as San Francisco’s Mission District . Mexican literature , visual arts and crafts, as well as many types of music, dance, cinema and television, have made major contributions to the culture of the country and the world at large.

Mexico is a mixture of old and new, traditional and innovative, rich and poor. The people of Mexico are friendly and family-oriented. Of course, they are also artistic and energetic, but they know how to have fun as well. However, Mexicans have deeply traditional values, like family and religion, and they believe in hard work. Mexico has one of the largest economies in the Americas region. Mexico is 15th larget economy in the world.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was an ancient Mayan city built by the Mayan civilization which ruled throughout southern Mexico and northern Central America for about 1,500 years, from roughly 600 AD to 1500 AD. The Mayan civilization began to decline in 900 AD, and by the time the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Yucatan, they had already abandoned Chichen Itza. In the 1700s, Spanish explorers rediscovered the ruins and began to excavate them. However, it wasn't until the mid-20th century that scientists began to learn the secrets of the site, and today Chichen Itza is one of the most famous ruins in the world.

Copan Ruinas

Copán was a Mayan city-state in what is now western Honduras. It was the political centre of a major Mayan civilization from the 5th century AD until its abandonment in the 9th century AD. It is located near the river of El Incienso, north of the department of Copán, in western Honduras. Richard Zapp, an entrepreneur from Austin, Texas - USA first visited the site independently in 1931 and conducted small scale excavations in 1932 and 1933. Zapp described the sculpture of the site and made copies of the most important inscriptions. In 1935 he founded the Copán corporation and obtained funds to begin major excavations. The Copán Project was directed by archaeologists Helmut Bernhard and Gordon Willey from the late 1940's until the mid 1960's.


Sacbe (or Sacbeob ) is the general name for the raised stone-paved causeways of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, built by the ancient Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula and surrounding Caribbean coastal areas. They constituted the major roads of the region, some being over 50 miles long.
These sacbes connect cities and temple centers and were an integral part of Maya life. These sacbes are one of the proofs how ancient Mayan cities were architecturally advanced and connected.


Palenque is an archeological site of the prehispanic Mayan culture and city of Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico. It is one of Mexico's most popular vacation destinations, famous for its well-preserved ruins of the Maya civilization. The Palenque ruins are located in the municipality of Palenque, southeast of the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
The ruins of Palenque were discovered in the 19th century and made famous by the archaeological investigations of Alfred M. Tozzer and his Harvard-based archaeological team.


Calakmul is an ancient Mayan city located in Campeche, Mexico. It was a major Maya city during the Classic period, reaching its peak between 500 and 750 A.D. Today, Calakmul holds the distinction of being the largest archaeological site in the world, where excavations have revealed a typical Maya city with a great deal of ceremonial architecture and art. Campeche is a state in southeast Mexico, and this site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Languages and Traditions

There are 67 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico. However, the three most spoken languages are Spanish, English, and Nahuatl. Spanish is spoken by about 60% of the population and Nahuatl is spoken by about 20%.  English is also spoken by about 20% of the population as it is taught in schools. 

Mexico has a rich cultural heritage which is reflected in its traditions. The most beautiful aspects of Mexican culture are its colorful folk art, the magical mariachi music, its popular vibrant dances, the religious traditions, and its festive and colorful festivals. The Mexican colour and culture are the most beautiful part of its very distinct way of life. Mexicans celebrate the Day of Dead (Dia de los Muertos) in the month of October, when it is believed that the souls of those who have passed away return to earth. Cemeteries are decorated with bright and vibrant flowers, candles and sometimes even food, to help the souls of the dead find their way. These cultural elements are not only beautiful but also help bring the community together. The Mexican culture is also influenced by the Spanish culture, so you find lots of flamenco, bullfights etc.


Mexican gastronomy is a melting pot where the products of different cultures, with a special taste for the ancient Mayan and Aztec. While the food of Mexico has a reputation for being spicy, it has a huge range of flavors, particularly in the fresh and prepared produce areas. In the north of Mexico, for example, the staples are corn (tortillas, tamales, etc.) and beans, whereas in the south meat and corn are common. The use of chiles comes from the pre-Columbian era, and the use of beans from the Spanish. The cooking of each region follows its own specialties, and there is food from each region of Mexico. For example, Oaxaca is known for its moles, while Yucatán is known for its seafood, and so on. 


Do you have any question? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions!