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Yucatán, the cradle of the Mayan culture

Let’s visit Yucatán, the region that inspired Yacatán restaurant

It's pretty easy to guess: Yacatán, the name of our restaurant, comes from Yucatán, one of the most emblematic Mexican regions. True cradle of the Mayan culture, this state does not cease to delight the tourists thanks to its heavenly beaches, its luxuriant jungle and its archaeological sites. A real cultural nugget that we will discover together in this article.

Yucatán, a region with a rich history

Yucatán and its Mayan cities


Long before Yucatán became a Mexican state, the region was one of the centers of Maya civilization. The Maya occupied the territory 4,600 years before our era. The archaeological site of Chichén Itzá and its pyramid of Kukulcán, a city founded in the fourth century, which was one of the most powerful of the Mayan civilization, are a great example. Today, the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".

It was on January 6, 1542 that the region came under Spanish rule, when the conquistador Francisco de Montejo founded the city of Mérida, which is now its capital.

The name Yucatán would be, moreover, intimately linked to Spanish colonization. The most popular explanation comes from an anecdote told by Toribio de Benavente, who said that the name was created by interpreting the words of the natives: "Ma c'ubah than" - we do not understand your words.

Another explanation, more macabre, would see it as a combination of two words: yuka - to kill, and yetá - many. This would be a reference to the extermination of the Maya by bacteria and the diseases carried by the livestock and domestic animals arriving from Spain.

A state with pro-independence ambitions

Yucatán is also known in the history of Mexico as a rebellious region. On two occasions in the 19th century, the state declared its independence, going so far as to constitute itself as the Republic of Yucatán, not hesitating to even ask to join the United States of America.

It was on July 14, 1848 that Yucatán definitively joined Mexico.

Sisal, the green gold of Yucatán


But it was the cultivation of Sisal that made Yucatán what it is today. Also known as Henequen, Sisal is a plant of the Agave family - which produces the famous Tequila, whose fibers, very resistant, are used to manufacture fabrics and ropes.

In the 19th century, this industry reached a growth that allowed the region to reach its financial autonomy, and many families to make their fortune. This development can still be seen today in the architecture of Merida, as well as in the 150 hacendarias of the peninsula.

Requiring a large workforce, the Sisal industry had another, more unusual effect: the settlement of Korean immigrants. Arriving in 1905, the workers were employed in the Sisal fields of Yucatán. However, at the end of their contracts, most of them had not managed to save enough money to pay for the return trip, and found little appeal in their native land, since invaded by Japan.

Today, Mexico still has a large Korean community.

Yucatán, a region with exceptional places



In addition to its singular history, Yucatán offers exceptional landscapes, like the cenote, these underground rivers dug in the limestone. Connected by a network of aquatic caves, they can be found as well in the jungle, as in Celestún, as in cities like Valladolid.

The term "cenote" comes originally from the Maya dz'onot, which means "sacred well". Some cenotes were indeed considered points of communication with the "underworld".

Today, the cenotes are a paradise for bathers and scuba divers.

The peninsula is also known for its magnificent beaches with transparent waters, as well as its jungles as dense as mysterious... a change of scenery in many ways!

Mérida, its cultural capital

Région la plus touristique du pays, le Yucatán compte de nombreuses villes qui valent le détour, entre les plages paradisiaques de Cancún et les édifices médiévaux de Valladolid. Mais c’est Mérida, sa capitale, qui est incontournable d’un point de vue culturel.


The most touristic region of the country, Yucatán has many cities that are worth a visit, between the heavenly beaches of Cancún and the medieval buildings of Valladolid. But it is Mérida, its capital, which is a cultural staple.

The wealth brought by the culture of the Sisal has mainly benefited this city. They allowed it, for example, to install urban lightings and a network of tramways well before Mexico City. At the beginning of the 20th century, Merida had the most millionaires per capita.

With such wealth, there are beautiful houses, especially on the Paseo de Montejo, inspired by the Champs-Élysées. Today, these buildings are home to restaurants, shops and hotels.

But these buildings did not prevent it from preserving a very marked Mayan identity, with a sense of festival and folklore which distinguishes it from other Mexican cities. Its impressive carnival that is held every February is a great example of that.

The gastronomy of Yucatán

At Yacatán, it is the gastronomy of the region that convinced us to name our restaurant. Based on Mayan culture, with influences from the Caribbean, France and even the Middle East, the cuisine of Yucatán is very different from the rest of the country.

It is differentiated by the use of tropical fruits and honey, used long before the arrival of the Spaniards to sweeten the dishes. Due to its location, it also offers many fish dishes.

A unique identity that has inspired us to develop our menu, with the marine flavors of our ceviche, and our many fruity seasonings.

Wanna discover new contents related to Mexican cuisine and culture? Don't hesitate to come back regularly on this blog and to subscribe to our instagram account... and to fully enjoy Mexican gastronomy, don't wait any longer to book your table at Yacatan!

Buen viaje,



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