The Colors of Tulum: A Glimpse into its Street Art Culture
Nestled along the Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum is globally celebrated for its pristine beaches, ancient ruins, and luxurious resorts. But for those in the know, it offers another vibrant attraction: its burgeoning street art scene. For travelers seeking a unique cultural experience, here's a guide to navigating the colorful world of Tulum's street art. Building walls come alive with vibrant murals, reflecting a blend of indigenous heritage, global influences, and contemporary themes. Here's a guide to immersing yourself in Tulum's vibrant murals, ensuring your trip is both enlightening and picture-perfect!
A brief history of Street art in Mexico and Tulum
Tulum, once a tranquil fishing village in the Yucatán Peninsula, has evolved into an epicenter of culture, with street art being one of its most vibrant expressions. The history of street art in Tulum is a tapestry of local traditions, environmental concerns, and the influence of global trends.
If you have the opportunity to walk through the streets of Tulum, you're bound to be greeted by massive murals, intricate graffiti pieces, and thought-provoking artwork. These aren’t just pretty pictures; they are a reflection of Tulum’s culture, its connection to nature, and its stand on global issues.
Mexican street art takes root with a movement that was created after the Mexican revolution. The purpose of Mexican street art was then to make art that would educate the mostly illiterate population about the country's history and present a powerful vision of its future, and above all, an art that would be accessible to everyone.
The history of Street art in Mexico is widely influenced by its pre hispanic roots. Indeed, Street Art in Mexico has exploded in the last several years. Mexico is no stranger to cultural graffiti as the ancient Mayans and Aztecs covered their temple walls with beautiful imagery and colors, as you can see for example in our tour to Chichen Itza; we can still observe colors on certain ruins and our guides will show you pictures of how it looked like before according to the research.
As a matter of fact, Tulum's street art is deeply influenced by its Mayan heritage, and many murals depict Mayan gods, traditional ceremonies, and indigenous faces, intertwined with contemporary themes. This blend of ancient and modern gives Tulum’s art a unique flavor, considering all of that mixed with the special and strong fragrance of copal, the delicious Mexican cuisine immerses us in a world of emotions and sensations, creating a true synesthesia and most people can feel some magic in this energetic vortex of Tulum.
Muralism became famous here in the 1920s after the Mexican Revolution and Mexico has been embracing art on its walls ever since. These days, Tulum's popularity as a tourist destination skyrocketed in the early 2000s, and so did the influx of international visitors and artists. This cosmopolitan blend resulted in a fusion of styles. Street artists from around the world flocked to Tulum, attracted by its pristine beaches, mystical cenotes, and rich Mayan heritage.
Transforming Tulum’s urban landscape
While Tulum is primarily known for its ancient Mayan ruins and azure beaches, the past decade has seen the town transform into a hub for international and local artists. Walls, facades, and unexpected nooks throughout the town are adorned with a mix of thought-provoking and aesthetically pleasing art. All this energy and willingness to make Tulum an important place on the street art scene comes from an initiative of a local art collective called Tinasah.
Indeed, the latter has a core mission to make Tulum the capital of street art in Mexico. This is traduced in the urban landscape by muralism canvas with vibrant colors and murals depicting stories about mayan culture and legend, or some symbols of Tulum and Yucatan peninsula, like turtles, nature or birds that you will be able to spot in our Sian Ka’an Adventure tour.
Plus, creations also give us an insight about what is currently happening in Tulum, like the town’s grappling with the growing tourism industry, programs for schools or even pieces about our relationship with technology and how - for better or for worse - it has become a central part of our lives.
Tinasah overcomes the difficulties of creating street art in Tulum and uses its platform to promote conversations about social integration and caring for the environment. On top of that, in recent years, Tulum has hosted street art festivals, bringing together artists from around the world. For instance, the annual Tulum Street Art Festival further cements the town’s reputation as a hub for creative expression. Often coupled with workshops and art tours, it has played a pivotal role in promoting street art in the region. Tourists and locals alike can take guided tours to better understand the stories and meanings behind the murals as art is promoted as a medium of change and consciousness on meaningful issues. In our Classic Tulum Bike Tour for instance, you’ll be able to wander around the streets of Tulum by bike and get to see several murals.
When talking about street art, we must not forget to talk about the artists behind the magic of those walls. Many talented artists have contributed to Tulum's vibrant streetscape.
Among the most famous, we have Said Dokins, recognized for his unique calligraphic style, whose work often delves into issues of identity and migration. Another remarkable artist is Senkoe with his vibrant murals, inspired by Mexican traditions and folklore, are instantly recognizable. Emma Rubens has made various murals in Tulum and is known for her creations depicting children. Nevertheless, there are a plethora of artists behind the walls and we must acknowledge their work. We must not forget to talk about PangeaSeed Foundation, which is an international collective focused on ocean conservation. They've transformed various walls in Tulum into marine-themed masterpieces to raise awareness about the preservation of marine life.
Environmental consciousness is a significant theme and the main message delivered by artists. Given Tulum's proximity to the fragile Mesoamerican Reef (check our last article about Marine life in Tulum) and its lush jungles, many artworks emphasize the importance of nature conservation, marine protection, and sustainable living.
Muralism as a strong mean of expression : a deep dive into Tulum’s street art and tips for tourists
There is something quite paradoxical about Tulum : Tulum downtown or Tulum pueblo contrasts with the profusion of street art in the little corners , whereas in the Hotel zone or some neighborhoods, you will see complex design with sharp shapes immaculate.
Now, let’s have a brief overview of the best streets and neighborhoods of Tulum to see and enjoy street art. In essence, Tulum's street art adds another dimension to an already enchanting destination, as you can see in the posts of influencers in Tulum adopting boho chic style in the beautiful beach clubs and in front of street art. As you soak in the sun and explore the ancient ruins, in our tour to the Tulum Ruins, don't miss out on this contemporary and colorful slice of Tulum's culture. Your travel album—and memories—will be all the richer for it!
In Downtown Tulum, you can wander through the main streets of Tulum town, where many buildings boast large-scale murals. These streets are perfect for a casual stroll, offering numerous photo ops along the way, especially by bike since it is the best way to visit the city. You can enjoy our Tulum E-bike tour that will enable you to see many artworks while visiting the city with the comfort of an electric bike. While wandering Tulum's streets, you're bound to encounter numerous eye-catching murals that will blow your mind and make you fall in love with the city.
Nonetheless, while you can find street art almost everywhere in Tulum, some of the most iconic pieces are on:
These streets are a living gallery, with walls transformed into vibrant canvases.
Furthermore, while some murals are purely aesthetic, many carry deeper meanings and unveil important themes for Tulum’s community. Street art has become a powerful means of communication and expression, accessible to all. Among topics covered, we find many about Nature and Conservation; given the beauty and incredible biodiversity of the Yucatan Peninsula and Tulum's coastal beauty, many artworks portray marine life, emphasizing the importance of protecting our oceans and reefs. Moreover, you can't miss the references to Mayan culture and the celebration of it. Mayan Heritage is part of Tulum's DNA and is deep-rooted in this city. You will encounter pieces that celebrate ancient rituals, gods, and stories.To have more insight about mayan civilization and culture, you can join our Mayan Inland expedition tour.
Eventually, another important theme is modern reflections, about society and its evolution. From commentaries on tourism to global politics, some murals serve as reflections on present-day issues, but also as a strong means of expression for the inhabitants and locals of the city. Indeed, the subject matter of Tulum's street art is both diverse and poignant, and reflects the paradox of Tulum : an authentic little “pueblo” and the greedy parts of heavy constructions designed to accommodate tourists. Many murals reflect a deep concern for the environment, with depictions of endangered species, deforestation, and ocean pollution. Another prevalent theme is the celebration of indigenous heritage and the spiritual connection to nature, which is the essence of the Mayan culture and civilization.
While street art has undoubtedly beautified Tulum's urban landscape, it has not been without challenges. As Tulum grapples with rapid development and tourism pressures, it's essential that street art remains a medium of expression, awareness, and resistance.
Tulum's street art is more than just colorful walls; it's a reflection of its rich history, a call for environmental responsibility, and a celebration of its diverse cultural influences. As the town continues to evolve, so will its art, remaining a testament to Tulum's ever-changing yet deeply rooted identity. Tulum's street art scene offers tourists a colorful and cultural journey, merging the old with the new.
As you explore, not only will you be treated to visual wonders, but you'll also gain insights into the heart and soul of this enchanting town. Make sure to keep your camera handy – Tulum's murals are memories you'll want to cherish long after your trip!
So, the next time you're in Tulum, take a moment to wander its streets, and let the art tell you its story.
If you wish to book a Private Art Tour, do not hesitate to reach out to us !