Mexico Vacations

Mexico never ceases to surprise you with its genuinely rustic charm, archetypical towns, mouth-watering cuisine, and colorful, lively inhabitants. The recorded Mexican history dates back to the 13th Century, when immigrants from the north, called Mexica, settled in the Basin of Mexico. The civilization was tempered through several wars and conflicts that culminated in the Spanish Conquest in 1525. With this started the colonial rule that would last in different shapes and forms for the next four centuries. This era gave Mexico its wealth of colonial architecture, the palaces called Haciendas, most of which were resurrected from ruins during the 20th century and transformed into marvelous tourist attractions.

Mexico Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Mexico Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Mexico

Mexico Geography

Mexico is located in the southern part of North America, the furthest point of Mexico measures just over 3200km in length. Mexico is bordered by the United States on the north, the Pacific Ocean to the West and the South, to the East of Mexico you will find the Gulf of Mexico. The Country of Mexico is not considered as part of Central America and is divided into 31 states and a federal district. Mexico’s total landmass covers 1,972,550 km² which include 6000 km² of Pacific Ocean Islands.

Mexico has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cold winters. The low-lying areas of the north, creating hot summer temperatures that average around 28º Celsius during the day and winter months that average around 5º Celsius during the day. Mexico is also situated in the middle of the hurricane belt that is prone to heavy storms between June and November months. The hurricanes that come from the Pacific Ocean are less damaging than those that affect Mexico’s Eastern coast. These hurricane storms bring heavy rains, high-speed winds, loss of life and extensive damage.

The flora found in Mexico consists of exotic woods such as the Ceiba Tree, Mahogany, and the Chico Zapote (that is used to make chewing gum). These trees can be found in the tropical rainforest and are often covered with orchids, bromeliads, Tillandsia, and Creepers.

The grey whales are seen as the highlights of the area, every winter to spring they travel from Alaska to the warm waters of California where they give birth. This area also homes dolphins, seals, sea lions and sea turtles.

Mexico's Pacific Coast is famous for its beach towns which include Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Manzanillo. The beaches are a popular destination for Mexico vacations. Mexico's Pacific Coast was made even more famous by the movies which used Mexico's beaches and mountains as a backdrop for their settings. The most famous of the movies was "Night of the Iguana" staring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner.

The Baja Peninsula is a unique landmass that extends from the southern border of the United States and is separated from the main landmass of Mexico by the Gulf of California. The Baja Peninsula is know for its unique migratory species such as the Great Grey Whale, Mexico's Sea Turtles and Mexico's Whale Sharks. The majority of vacation rentals in Mexico that are located on the beach are found in the Baja Peninsula or in the coastal towns of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Acapulco.

The Yucatan Peninsula today includes the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan. It is a region that has been heavily influence by the Mayan civilizations that existed in the area. Some of the famous Mayan cities are Chichén Itzá. The famous tourist town in the Yucatan peninsula are Cancun and Tulum.

In the center of Mexico is the District of Mexico City which is located in the "Valley of Mexico" and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. The "Valley of Mexico" has been the location of civilizations for centuries. There are archaeological sites within the "Valley of Mexico" that date back to the Aztec civilizations.

Mexico Culture

The culture of Mexico has been dramatically influenced over the centuries by numerous civilizations. Mexico is the worlds largest Spanish speaking country, but before the arrival of the Spaniards, indigenous cultures ruled Mexico for centuries. These ancient cultures blend with Mexico's history and modern society creating a diverse culture. During 1500 BC, the Olmec culture was establishing communities and cities. The Olmec's main food crops were traditional foods that are still popular in modern Mexico Society; corn, beans and chili peppers. The Olmec society was replaced by the Mayans, Teotihuacan and Zapoltec civilizations around 600 BC. In 900 AD the Toltec society replaced the Mayans and took control of the Valley of Mexico until the rise of the Aztecs in 1325 AD. Indulging in a vacations to Mexico provides an opportunity to enjoy the combination of Spanish culture combined with the indigenous cultures of the Mayan, Incas and Aztec civilizations.

It was not until 1519, when Cortez arrived in the Yucatan Peninsula he brought ships and supplies and 450 soldiers that he takes control of Tenochtitlan and destroys the Aztec city and builds Mexico City, that the culture of Mexico took a dramatic change. It was that turning point that has contributed to Mexico being the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. The Spaniards brought many diseases to the area that broke down the population of Nueva Espana, these diseases killed about 24 million people between the years of 1521 and 1605. The influence of the Catholic Church was only strongly felt when missionaries arrived in the area in 1523. The missionaries started to build monasteries that converted thousands of people to Catholicism. During this time there was a tremendous power battle between the Peninsulares (Mexicans who were born in Mexico) and the Criollos (Spaniards who was born in Mexico). There were many Criollos that wanted equal political power as the Peninsulares in the area. In the 1700’s King Carlos III of Spain, who grew concerned about the growing power of the Catholic church, expelled Jesuits from Nueva Espana. Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Spain in 1808 which weakened the economic and political structure which ended up weakening Spain’s grip on Nueva Espana.

The original indigenous cultures, that had lived in the region for centuries, revolted during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. The existing government had been based on a dictatorship. Many of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution were by birth part of the indigenous groups that had been oppressed by the Spaniards. And their names became synonymous with the revolution. Francisco Madero, Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata were some of the more well know revolutionaries of that era. Many people plan a vacation in Mexico because of these unique cultures.

Scattered across the countryside are the remnants of the indigenous civilizations. The ruins of Teotihuacán are located 50 KM northeast of Mexico City. Mayan ruins can be found in the region of Quintana Roo. In the town Santiago Tuxla Veracruz you will find ancient Olmec head weighing 40 tons.

Beside the unique cultures that are part of the history of Mexico, the country is known for it's beautiful beaches. Quintana Roo is known for the resort towns of Cancun and Cozumel. Further south in the Guerrero Region, you find the beach towns of of Acapulco and Ixtapa. Another famous Mexico beach destination is Manzanillo in the district of Colima. No wonder a vacation in Mexico is so popular.

Mexico Landmarks

Mexico is today the proud owner of the most prominent evidences of the glorious ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, nowadays a true magnet for tourists around the globe. The sophisticated archaeological ruins form the most impressive collection on the American continent, a great part being classified as UNESCO world heritage monuments and offer a valuable immersion into the past not only for history lovers or archaeology amateurs. As testimony of a great bygone civilization we can observe on spot ancient fortified cities, towering pyramids, sumptuous decorated palaces and temples or ritualic sacred sites.

The starting point of a tour of Mexico’s antique civilizations is positioned just a few steps outside Mexico City, jumping strait into the capital of the old Mesoamerica - the famous Teotihuacan. A fabulous archaeological site, home to the third largest pyramid of the world “Pyramid of the Sun”, Teotihuacan shows the reminisces of a flourishing era and a glance of life that passed away more than a millennium ago. The place is furrowed by a monumental thoroughfare, Avenue of the Dead, leading to the Pyramid of the Moon, which is surrounded by 12 temples designing the Plaza de la Luna. Frescos, mural paintings and decorations are to be admired in the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Temple of the Plumed Conch Shells, Jaguar Palace or Tepantitla Palace, with its renowned Paradise of Tláloc. “La Ciudadela” or the Temple of the Feathered Serpent is another focal point of this impressive ruins structure, believed to have been the supreme leader’s residence.

Monte Alban is another must see in a voyage of discovery of a phenomenal past; the capital of Zapotecs was a military and ceremonial center of the pre-Columbian culture dating back to around 500 B.C. The ruins laid down in the Oaxaca Valley, concentrate around the Gran Plaza, an open space surrounded by pyramids, tombs, buildings, temples and ball courts. A veritable testament of the civilization's architectural style and level of culture, Monte Alban is an elaborate architectonic site with different types of constructions, underground passages, evidence of water storage systems and astronomical observatory. Pay a visit to discover the Plaza de los Danzantes or the Stones of Conquest, relics of triumphs and battles of this millennia-old capital of Zapotec people and find out about ceremonial precincts or ritualistic ball games.

Chichen Itza, a place of colossal cultural significance, is “the most impressive testimonies to the Maya-Toltec civilization of the Yucatan“ states UNESCO, the most visited Mayan ruins in Mexico and due to its uniqueness and outstanding architecture one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The ancient capital of the Mayans and the largest archeologic site in Yucatan, nestled in magic and mystery, shelters the famous Pyramid of Kukulcan (El Castillo), the Temple of Warriors, the astronomic observatory, the castle and the ball court, groups of columns, temples and sacrifice altars. The “time templates” displayed here allow the visitor to gain a drop of Mayan wisdom through their astronomical calendar and natural light spectacle that takes place during equinoxes (the serpent shadow that ascends or descends on El Castillo).

Another top Mayan ruins site is Uxmal, a religious center, whose name significance is “built three times”. A well-restored archaeological structure, Uxmal and the three neighboring cities Sayil, Labná and Kabah constitute the perfect exponent of the late Mayan social and economic society, before its collapse during the Classic Period. The visitor will be charmed by the Governor’s Palace, with its mosaic façade featuring 103 masks of Chac, the rain god, one of the longest dating of those times, the Pyramind of the Magician, the Nunnery Quadrangle, the Great Pyramid or the Temple of the Doves. All these buildings belong to the Puuc architectural style, the Governor’s Palace being one of the best existing exponents of the Puuc architecture.

An architectonic site of smaller amplitude, but the only one erected on coast and one of the last built by the Mayans during the post classic period is Tulum. It served as seaport and major commercial point, trading especially jade and turquoise. Tulum is not as grandiose as the other famous Mayan ruins, but it reigns over a wild coastline, a sparking sandy beach and crystal clear-turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The ruins are surrounded on three sides by a limestone wall, a fortification that helped preserving the site. Of course, Tulum, has its own Castillo, the most imposing existing structure on spot and a Temple of the Frescoes inviting to an intrusion into the life of Mayan world.