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Government Palace Its serene plains, its gentle geography, its life-generating rivers and its mysterious marshes were almost always ignored by travellers, who eager to get to the indecipherable forest of Chiapas obviated the fantastic natural and historical charms of Tabasco, the blessed land in which the seed of the Mesoamerican civilisations sprouted.

Fishermen It was just a place to be crossed in spite of all of its setting richness and its lively burst of flora and fauna; an unknown place in spite of being the cradle of the Olmecas, the mother culture, the root of all the autochthonous peoples in Central America; a hardly visited place in spite of its monumental archaeological compounds and its invaluable vestiges from the past.

La Luz Lodge But the times are now changing; nowadays Tabasco reveals itself to the eyes of travellers as an impacting and assorted destination, spattered with plains, savannahs, mangroves, coastlines, marshes and chunks of forest; a state with a extremely rich historic legacy, a valuable inheritance of the Olmeca and Mayan cultures that still remain for humanity's delight.

It was in these warm lands cleaved by the navigable Grijalva and Usumacinta Rivers that Mexican conquistador, Hernan Cortes, got an unusual gift from the hands of chief Taabs Coob: "The Malinche", or Doña Marina, the daughter of a noble native that would become his interpreter (she spoke the Náhuatl language) and adviser, as well as his lover.

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Vasija artisan Here ends the pre Hispanic history of Tabasco; here begins the history of Villahermosa, the state capital located at 863 kilometres from Mexico City. Its origins date back to 1519, when Cortes, perhaps after getting The Malinche, founded the first Spanish enclave on the left bank of the Grijalva River, which he baptised with the name of Santa Maria Victoria.

Park Museum LA VENTA Years later, due to the constant attacks from the pirates, the city had to be moved upstream, hence its name was changed to Villahermosa de San Juan Bautista. This would be the beginning of an agitated history, marked by struggles and clashes that would eventually "erase" any trace of the old colonial constructions that adorned the capital of Tabasco from the current urban physiognomy.

The succession of violent events began in 1846, when the city was bombed by US troops willing to invade it; the violent attacks were repeated in 1863 and 1864, though this time the aggressors were the interventionist French forces. The enemy was different, although the result was the same: Villahermosa was destroyed.

The struggles were internal in the XX century; the so-called Christ War, an unusual confrontation between the Mexican Nation and the Catholic Church, was unleashed between 1926 and 1929. The conflict reached unbelievable proportions in Tabasco, when Governor Tomas Garrido Canabal led an aggressive anticlerical campaign that included the destruction of several temples.

But all this is part of the past, and now Villahermosa awakens with the delicate murmur of the river and the fresh aroma of the flowers of the guaiacums. A pleasant atmosphere that invites to tour the Light Zone, it most traditional face, and admire the superb House of the Glazed Tiles, the Palace of Government with its fine European finishes, or the Cathedral of the Lord of Tabasco and its stylised belfries.

It also reveals itself as a present-day and modern city, due to a process of architectonic dynamism that started in the 1970s, when the State of Tabasco turned into one of the main oil-producing regions in the country, a condition that changed the urban geography of Villahermosa.

Dazzling buildings and ample recreational centres changed the physiognomy of the state capital, being the so-called Tabasco 2000 Zone the main showcase of progress, the best example of the rejuvenated city. Here you can find the huge, exuberant and amusing Tabasco Park, with a sea aquarium and an open-air theatre, and the Planetarium, one of the main observatories of Mexico.

The other face of the medal is the La Venta Park Museum, which exhibits valuable Olmeca sculptures made of basaltic stone, besides slabs carved in bas-relief and gorgeous altars that reveal the greatness of the pre Hispanic man; historical testimonies that are complemented by an amusing zoo, with local flora and fauna species.

The tour through the aisles of Mesoamerican history must continue along the rooms of the Carlos Pellicer Regional Museum of Anthropology, a flashy building housing excellent samples of the diverse cultures that inhabited the State of Tabasco before the Hispanic presence. The objects, mainly of Olmeca and Mayan origins, come from the ancient Cities of Tlatilco and Teotihuacán.

The vestiges from the past are also a temping alternative on the outskirts of the city. A coming and going through remote cities that reveal the greatness of the first Mesoamericans, those who built Comalcalco, with its singular buildings made of brick, mud, sand and seashells; La Venta, with its high-precision urban concepts; and Pomona, with its impressive hieroglyphs and pyramidal buildings.

And after submerging in the "sea of history", there is nothing like starting a chancy trip in search of the biodiversity of Villahermosa, which has its main bastion at the Yumká Centre for the Interpretation and Coexistence with Nature, a extremely vast ecological park 110 hectares wide, where flora and fauna species on the brink of extinction are protected and their conservation is assisted.

Grottos of the CanicasOther natural spaces are Coconá, a cave of capricious shapes and mysterious caverns; and Koleem-Jaa, a spectacular ecological reserve on the southernmost tip of Tabasco where there is no lack of beautiful mountains, waterfalls and rivers in which one can feel the adrenaline through the practice of diverse sport activities, such as trekking, rappelling and mountain biking.

Villahermosa and the entire Tabasco have been rediscovered for travellers; and nowadays, one of the most important oil-producing states in Mexico is not only a place to be crossed in the search of the unfathomable mysteries of the forest of Chiapas, but an authentic destination in which the preterit and the modern worlds come together. Perhaps a new civilising seed is germinating in these warm lands.

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