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If you’re thinking about traveling to the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa region, you may want to take a few days to explore the rich culture in Zihuatanejo. Although this is a largely tourist area, with plenty of shops and beaches to fill your days, there is also a varied and complex past to the region. The city takes care to preserve and exhibit many parts of this past for those interested in the local history, and you can visit everything from museums to archaeological sites.
The History of Zihuatanejo
According to local legend, Zihuatanejo has been a resort town since the 1400s, having been first established as a royal bathing resort for the local king and his many wives. The area was inhabited before that, of course, and evidence of these early civilizations can be found in various dig sites and architecture. Various invasions by the Aztecs and the Spanish followed throughout the years, which is why the atmosphere here retains a unique and interesting mixture of all these different cultures.
Places to Visit in Zihuatanejo
Many of the ancient ruins are not open to visitors at this time, since preservation and discovery efforts are still going strong. If you do want to take a journey through historic Zihuatanejo, here are a few options to consider:
- Museo de Arqueologia de la Costa Grande, a local museum that contains exhibits of ancient pottery and art from the area.
- La Soledad De Maciel, located in the town of La Chole, is an archaeological site about 25 minutes from the center of Zihuatanejo. The site was originally uncovered in 1930, but it wasn’t until very recently that the government began excavations in earnest. The artifacts include those from the Tarascan, Aztec, Toltec, and Olmec civilizations.
- Local artists are very active in the Zihuatanejo region, and there are a number of galleries and museums you can visit to view this modern work. From Fisherman’s Walk, where many open-air shops sell their wares, to galleries like Casa Bulmaro or Templo Maya, you can find everything from paintings and sculptures to handcrafted jewelry.
- If you’re willing to explore a little outside the Zihuatanejo area, you can visit the towns of La Perica, Petatlan, and Murga, all of which have stone ruins, rock paintings, and petroglyphs that are open to the public.
Of course, much of the best culture to explore in Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, and neighboring Troncones are found all on your own. Getting to know the locals, visiting off-the-beaten-path sites, and buying artisan wares are all part of the Mexico vacation experience. As long as you take measures to ensure your safety as you explore, you can learn so much about life here in coastal Mexico — both today and throughout the centuries!