One cannot visit Mexico without noticing the elaborate street art throughout the cities. This is one of my favorite things to see in any city. Each work of art shows something unique about the culture of that city.
Mexico has always been a colorful country. Even the Mayans covered their structures in beautiful colors. When you visit different archaeological sites today, you might be lucky enough to see some pigment still on the walls that give us a glimpse into what it would have looked like. After the Mexican Revolution, street art became increasingly popular as a symbol of freedom and a memorial to their heritage and lost loved ones. From there, Mexico’s street art’s purpose has widely expanded.
Murals are used for so many different purposes in Mexico. They are used to honor a passed loved one, to celebrate a holiday or tradition, to pay tribute to the history of the city, to send political messages, humor, or even to advertise local businesses.
1. Oaxaca, Mexico Street Art
Visit the neighborhood dedicated to Dia De Los Muertos called Jalatlaco. Walk down Calz de la República in centro Oaxaca and view the houses and businesses covered in murals depicting different celebrations of the holiday. This is one of my favorite holidays so of course, I enjoyed this neighborhood in particular.
Dia de Los Muertos, also known as All Saints Day, is celebrated on November 1. These murals show how Dia de Los Muertos embraces death and celebrates the lives of the ones that have already passed on. Based on these murals it looks like they are having a good time!
2. San Cristobal de Las Casas
This is one of my favorite cities in all of Mexico. One thing that makes it so great is the diverse culture and mountainous landscape. Since the birth of San Cristobal de Las Casas, the locals have had to fight oppression from outside sources. They have constantly sought justice and protection for their culture and history. This attitude still stands today and is depicted in many murals throughout the city. The mural to the right states “Nadie es Illegal” meaning No one is illegal, a campaign that is has gained public attention in recent years.
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3. Street Art in Mexico: Holbox
This town features some of my favorite murals. The nature of the island including Whale Sharks, flamingos, and other exotic birds are depicted in many murals throughout the town. This is a relaxed beach town that has so much to offer. Holbox features 2 rare opportunities and in my opinion many more. This is one of the few places you can swim with Whale Sharks from May to September. It also has bioluminescence in its shallow waters, a microorganism that gives off light.
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This popular island features lots of murals, as well as sculptures to depict the Ixchel, the goddess of fertility, the moon, and death. You can see her in the center of the 2nd mural. There is a temple dedicated to her called San Gervasio and is an integral part of the island’s history. There are also many murals depicting the sea life and activities, as shown in the 3rd mural, that are so popular in Cozumel today.
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Tulum is by far the most artistic place I have visited. There are huge art installations on Boca Paila Highway in the hotel district and an art park has just opened! Many of the installations are made out of wood are absolutely incredible. Of course, these wonderful works of art intrigue many people, and often there is a line to get your picture with the installations.
As you can see, Mexico is full of wonderful street art! Most cities I have visited have incredible murals and art installations everywhere, with the exception of cities protected by UNESCO because they have very strict painting regulations. I love the stories the murals tell. They depict the history, values, and culture of each specific town and it is a wonderful way to learn about each unique city.