Ancient and Colonial History
From nomadic hunter-gatherer beginnings, Mexico’s ancient civilizations developed great empires and were intellectually sophisticated and aesthetically gifted in architecture, engineering, complex writing systems (Codices) and calendar concepts, the arts and astrology, and are credited with Mesoamerica’s first use of the concept of zero. For over 3,000 years before the Europeans arrived, ancient civilizations flourished – including the Olmec, Maya, Toltec, Aztec and Zapotec, whose large majestic cities included pyramids, temples, ball courts, floating gardens, canals and water features. In 1521, Mexico became a Spanish colony and endured Spanish rule for 300 years. In 1821, Mexico defeated the Spanish and gained full independence. Although atrocities, inequities, and exploitation occurred during the Spanish rule, the blending of these two cultures - their art, architecture and cultural elements - resulted in elaborate colonial cities, fabulous cuisine, unique art, textiles and religious beliefs. Spain had dispatched their best architects, designers and artists to New Spain (Mexico), which resulted in beautiful colonial cities built in ultra-Baroque, fantastically extravagant and visually pleasing styles.