Mexicans are Aztecs

Indigenous peoples & advanced cultures

It is generally difficult to provide precise data on the indigenous peoples of Mexico. But it is assumed that High civilizations in Mexico for more than 2,000 years who still surprise many scientists today with their legacies. They enrich Mexico culturally and still shape the art and culture of Mexico. It is estimated that in Mexico about 13,000 archaeological sites are available, which, however, still need to be partially uncovered or evaluated. In 1520/21 the Spaniards destroyed the last empire, that of the Aztecs.

Since the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, there have been repeated conflicts for centuries over the recognition of the independence of the indigenous peoples. B. the War of the Castes from 1847 to 1933 by the Maya. Even today there is still heated discussion and the descendants of high cultures in Mexico are fighting for more integrity, participation and respect. Although there have already been changes in the law, there is still a long way to go before many indigenous peoples in Mexico can fully integrate and thus improve the living conditions.

Indigenous peoples & their influence on Mexican art and culture

Even today you can find traditions, customs, typical food and drink, as well as influences in art and culture, which are maintained by the descendants of high cultures. A feast for all the senses.

With every step through Mexico you always breathe in a little Mexican history.

The remaining sites and ruins, some of which have been painstakingly excavated by archaeologists in the last few decades, are an important tourist magnet. Many trips to Mexico involve visiting these places. In order not to unnecessarily damage and wear out the important cultural sites, concepts are constantly being sought to increase the flow of visitors to facilities such as B. Chichen Itzá to keep lower. Ecotourism in Mexico plays a particularly important role in this. In order to follow certain rules, but also to learn more about the indigenous peoples, the most popular sites should be visited with a guided tour.

Before you travel to Mexico, find out about indigenous peoples in Mexico and the numerous high cultures that have influenced today's art and culture in Mexico so much

Olmecs

The culture of the Olmecs, which has been found between 1400 and 400 BC. B.C. had its heyday, is considered the mother culture of Mesoamerica. They settled mainly along the Gulf coast of Mexico, but left their traces as far as the Pacific coast and even south to today's Costa Rica. As high centers of this culture in Mexico z. B. La Venta, Tres Zapotes or San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan. With their already existing characters, calendars, numbers, gods and games, the Olmecs apparently exerted a great influence on later cultures such as the Maya. Particularly noticeable are the colossal heads or other stone sculptures that obviously made up a large part of Olmec art.

Teotihuacan

40 kilometers northeast of Mexico City is Teotihuacán, one of the most important metropolises in Mesoamerica, in the central highlands of Mexico. The people, who at their heyday between 200 BC. BC and 750 AD the city was inhabited, got its name from the city. Your architecture is exemplary. The various temples, pyramids or palaces are monumental and very impressive. It is believed that the Teotihuacans had trade relations with the Maya, Monte Albán and other indigenous peoples.

Maya

One of the most famous indigenous peoples of Mexico is the Maya. Basically, this is a collective term for more than 30 different peoples, who had their heyday from 500 BC. Until 1450 AD, but settled in Central America long before that. They come from the highlands of Guatemala, where their main settlement area was consistently. From there they immigrated to Belize, parts of Honduras, small areas of El Salvador and southern Mexico, to today's states of Yucatán, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.

Even then, this tribe exerted great influence on peoples of the Teotihuacan or Monte Albán who lived at the same time, but also on subsequent cultures such as those of the Aztecs. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Maya fought bitterly for their independence in the Yucatán, but were then subdued. Many descendants of the Maya can still be found in the population of the southern states of Mexico. These have incorporated some of the traditional rituals into their Catholic faith. Even today, the Maya are famous for their cultural achievements as well as for their highly developed culture. They had a unique monumental architecture, built places of worship, palaces or pyramids, and dedicated themselves to ball games, astronomy and the cosmos. They achieved outstanding achievements with their irrigation systems, their scripts with clearly developed characters, in mathematics, as well as through several highly developed calendars.

The Mayan cult sites are now among the most popular attractions in Mexico. These include Chitchén Itzá and Palenque, which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but also magical places such as Uxmal, Tulúm, Cobá, Calakmul or Edzná.

Zapotec / Mixtec

In the time of 500 BC Until 1521 the Zapotecs, later the Mixtecs, had their heyday. They mainly populated the areas in Oaxaca and Guerrero, where descendants of these cultures still live today. In the Oaxaca Valley, the Mixtecs gradually ousted the Zapotecs, but stayed in their cities. The most famous city is Monte Albán, a large cult center that went through five different phases during the Classical and later the Post-Classical period. The next Mixtec capital was Mitla.

A strong influence also came from the Olmecs and Maya. Later there was apparently a lively exchange with Teotihuacán. New or expanded writing systems were also developed by these cultures, they practiced the cult of the dead and they were among the first to work in a special way with ceramics or to dare to manufacture filigree pieces of jewelry.

Huaxtecs

The Huaxteken (Huasteken), a warlike but very courageous people, inhabited the coastal regions and the hinterland of the northern Gulf. Already 1000 BC They split off from the Maya, for example. The main centers of the Huaxtecs were Tampico, Veracruz and San Luís Potosi. Its heyday lasted from 600 to 1200. Later the Totonaks also settled in this area. Descendants of this culture can still be found in the Sierra Madre Oriental. Most of them are smallholders.

The legacies of this culture are its multi-storey pyramids, ball games and stone sculptures. In addition, the Huaxteks are considered to be the inventors of the “Danza de los Voladores”.

Toltecs

The Toltecs, who settled mainly in the regions north of Mexico City between 950 and 1200, were considered a very artistically gifted people. They built huge pillared halls, snake and skull walls and significantly influenced the architecture of the famous Chichén-Itzá.

Many buildings, decorations and portraits are reminiscent of warlike symbols, warriors or were dedicated to them. The best known are the four colossal statues of the atlases. The main center of the Toltecs was the city of Tula, about 85 km north of Mexico City.

Aztecs

In addition to the Maya, the Aztecs are certainly the most famous indigenous people of Mexico. In the 12th century their tribe immigrated to central Mexico and ruled there, and later over large parts of Mexico, until the 16th century. The so-called Aztecs, who apparently called themselves “Mexica”, founded the mighty capital “Tenochtitilán” on an island in Lake Texcoco. Starting from her, they conquered large areas of Mexico. Together with Tlatelolco, it became a huge metropolis, numbering more inhabitants than European cities at the time. When the Spaniards conquered Mexico in 1521, they completely destroyed Tenochtitlán, as well as most of all memorabilia from earlier cultures. Only 14 codices remain, documents that are now mostly kept in European museums. The Spaniards founded a new capital on the Aztec capital, today's Mexico City. In the last few decades the “templo mayor”, the main temple of the Aztecs, was found under the streets of the city.

The writing, the number system and the Aztec calendar are sophisticated developments of the preceding high cultures that amaze today's scientists again and again. The Aztec language, "Nahuátl", is still spoken today by indigenous peoples of Mexico.

Immerse yourself in the world of the Maya and Aztecs: The most beautiful Mexico tours, recommended by our travel experts!