August 20, 2008 · Print This Article
Mexico has been known throughout history for its port cities and the culture and architecture contained therein. One of these cities is the thriving and beautiful city of Mazatlan.
Mazatlan literally means, “place of the deer.” Though deer are rarely seen now because of the large population, the name remains as a reminder to the citizens of the city of their heritage. The name Mazatlan came from an Aztec language that was not originally native to the area. Historians believe that a translator that came with an explorer brought the language with him and gave the city its name. Though Mazatlan was not officially a city until the 1820′s, it was inhabited by an indigenous Indian tribe known as the Totarames. This culture left behind beautiful artifacts in the way of polychrome pottery. The pottery contains intricate designs and colors that are indicitive of a highly developed society.
Another interesting facet of Mazatlan’s history is that it has been occupied many different times by various different countries. Even the Confederate government at the time of the American Civil War tried to bring Mexico over to the rebel side by occupying the city. History tells us, however, that this plan did not succeed. The city also bears the title of being the first city on the American continent, and the second in the world, to be bombed. Tripoli, Libya is the first. The bomb was a crude piece of construction that was filled with nails and dynamite and wrapped in leather. This rather unpleasant surprise was intended by General Carranza to be dropped on a specific target. Tragically for the citizens of Mazatlan, the bomb was as crudely dropped as it was made. The explosive landed in the middle of the busy city streets of the city and killed several citizens and soldiers. This, however, is only a reflection of Mexico’s war-torn past.
In addition to all of these fascinating events that took place in Mazatlan, it also has the distinction of being one of Mexico’s premier coastal ports, historically. Until the Mexican government put armaments on the coast surrounding the harbor, pirates preying on Spanish ships often took up residence in the sheltered harbor. Mazatlan’s harbor is very unique because of the hills surrounding it, thus giving it a naturally protected port. Eventually, the Mexican goverment became tired of the unlawful intruders and reinforced the area. Though the pirates vanished near the 1800′s, the stories of gold-laden Spanish galleons and lost treasure continue to cause speculation about the possible location of pirated Spanish treasure in the caves along the coast.
Today, Mazatlan is one of the key tourist destinations in the Northwestern part of Mexico. The colorful and rich history and culture preserved by the people has made the city a wonderful place to visit. The city has many interesting sites to see, and has a rich history of being visited by digintaries such as Gregory Peck, a famous actor, David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University and Andrew Greyson, the noted ornithologist, among many others. The wonderful white sand beaches, historical architecture and colorful population make this city a premier destination for anyone that is looking for a fun and interesting way to spend their vacation.