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Mayan Ruins of Tulum Mexico

Updated on January 25, 2015

Maya Ruins in Tulum Mexico, off the Yucatan Peninsula

These are more of the white ruins of Tulum, Mayan Ruins, off the Playa Del Carmen
These are more of the white ruins of Tulum, Mayan Ruins, off the Playa Del Carmen | Source

Tulum Mexico

Tulum is in Quintano Roo, Mexico and about 38 miles southwest of Playa Del Carmen. It is the most visited archaeological site on the Yucatan Peninsula. Even though the ruins are as grand and spectacular as some are, it is still very fascinating and unique because it is built on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. On the cliff top, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, it is just beautiful and fascinating and it draws many visitors as you can imagine. This is something very unique for the major Mayan archaeological sites.

The town of Tulum (pronounced tool-lum) is a growing city mainly because of the interest the ruins bring to it. It is literally right above a very gorgeous beach that is known for its white sands, which contrast the blue green waters. If you ever get the chance, try to visit Tulim while in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. It is worth the extra time to go see it.

Tulum is visited by at approximately 2 million people per year, and I imagine it will only grow in popularity. We are all seeming to hear more about The Maya, or the Mayan Calendar now more than ever before. They were definitely on to something.

Mayan Ruins in Tulum

It was so special to get to walk along the paths at the Mayan Ruins in Tulum Mexico, of the Yucatan Peninsula.
It was so special to get to walk along the paths at the Mayan Ruins in Tulum Mexico, of the Yucatan Peninsula. | Source

The Ruins of Tulum

Compared to some other Mayan archaeological sites, Tulum isn't the most amazing of them all, but still so much can be learned. First of all, it is post-classic style which is during the years 1000 - 1521. You are able to hire a guide if you like, at the entrance. It has been warned however, to be wary of the information you receive for it can be embellished on occasion. For instance if you are told about any virgins being sacrificed on altars, that probably isn't the truth, but just do your research before hand so you can know what to expect.

People are not allowed to climb on or go in a lot of the structures in Tulum. Some are very fragile, and it isn't uncommon to keep the public at arms length at least, for the sake of the further preservation of a site like Tulum. For this reason, you can see the whole site in about two hours time, but if you allow for more time, you likely won't regret it, and will have more time for shopping or possibly exploring the beach below. When I was there, my time was too short, and I felt rushed to get pictures. I would love to go back however.

The are some main ruins you will want to see while in Tulum. There is the Templo de los Frescoes, which is a two story structure. It is located to the left of the entryway. You will see the temple's vaulted roof, and the corbel arch. These are examples of classic Mayan architecture. You can even see some faint traces of blue green frescoes! These are outlined in black on the inner and outer walls and show some of the ancient Mayan beliefs. The main frescoes that show the most however, are not able to be seen and are inside the temple. These are similar to the Mixtec style and give reference to the three worlds of the Maya as well as their deities. You will find serpentine patterns, ears of maize among other offerings to the gods and rosettes. There is one scene where you can see the rain god seated on a four legged animal.

The Castillo, or Castle is another famous structure in Tulum. It is probably the most famous and is looming at the edge of a limestone cliff, about 40 feet above the gorgeous beach below. To the left of the Castillo is the Templo del Dios Descendente. There is a carving of a winged god descending to the earth over the doorway.

You can find altars, though small, that are on top of the hill near the north side of the cove. There is a great view of the Castle and the sea from there. So these are just some of the reasons that people flock to Tulum, and why the area continues to grow even today. You can find places to stay, restaurants and shopping there. There is much more that can be said but this gives you a very basic idea of what is in the Mayan Ruins of Tulum.

Looking Along the Coastline in Tulum Mexico

This was an awesome opportunity to get to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Mexico.  Playa del Carmen on Yucatan Peninsula
This was an awesome opportunity to get to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Mexico. Playa del Carmen on Yucatan Peninsula | Source
Tulum, Mexico:
Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

get directions

Playa Del Carmen:
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

get directions

Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

get directions


A bit of history about Tulum

Conquistadors arrived in Tulum in 1518.  It was one of the few Mayan cities of that time to be inhabited.  Later in the 16th Century, it was considered a safe harbor for trading among rival Mayan factions.   It was considered neutral territory, so it was a peaceful place to trade merchandise, as well as storing it. 

There came a time when Tulum traders became wealthy because of this trading.  For the first time they outranked the Mayan Priests.  As for authority and power, this was a first!  Later, when the Spaniards arrived, they put a stop to the Mayan traders sailing the seas.  Because of this the commerce among the Maya later died. 

Tulum was a key city in the League of Mayapan (987-1194 AD).  Tulum held great significance for the Maya.  Tulum was one of the last outposts of the Maya, when they had the insurrection against Mexican rule in the War of the Castes, which began in 1846.  These uprisings continued off and on until 1935 or so.  After this, the Maya ceded Tulum to the government. 

Mayan Ruins in Tulum Mexico - A Poll

Have you ever been to the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico?

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    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Maine, you will love it! I wish I could go back, and have more time there. I feel thankful to have gone for the time I did get to go, however.

      Thank you for your visit, and comment. I am happy to share the information, and hope you have the best time in Mexico!

    • Maine Photography profile image

      Maine Photography 

      6 years ago from Portland, Maine

      Going to Tulum this winter and cant wait. Thanks for all the info!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Eiddwen, thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I love what you said about your pastime! I think that is an awesome idea, and I really appreciate your words and bookmarking and vote. :) Take care, Ocean

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales


      I have a pastime which I call 'Armchair Travelling'.

      On a grey wet day what beeter pastime than to sit down to read a traveling hub from the many on here we have to chose from.

      I have a great interest in history also so this one is a great treat to bookmark plus vote up.

      Take care


    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Tonymac, thank you very much! Love and Peace back to you

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      I really enjoyed this Hub - I love this kind of historical and cultural information. Your pix are awesome too!

      Thanks so much for enlightening me on a place I have never heard of before.

      Love and peace


    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I agree, kids toy box, and thank you!

    • kids-toy-box profile image


      8 years ago

      Ruins have so much memory and history in them. Awesome hub. Pictures look incredible too.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Travelespresso, thank you! I would love to go see the same ruins in Cambodia that you did, especially while you can really get in there and see them. In time, I agree, that they will probably not allow people to climb on them. For now though, how great to get to experience them up close!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      David Russell, thank you for your great tips for people visiting the Tulum area I will defintely remember those things for next time. Great for kids and adults alike!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hathibelagal, thank you

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Haha Phoenix, and thank you! :)

    • travelespresso profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Great hub oceansunsets. I felt as though I was there with you. I went to Mexico last year and would love to go back. Tulum sounds like it needs to be on that itinerary.

      I recently went to Cambodia to see the ruins in and around Angkor Wat which were absolutely amazing. They DO allow people to climb all over most of the temples but as tourism grows I am sure the barriers will be erected to protect these ancient structres.

    • Russell-D profile image


      8 years ago from Southern Ca.

      Just before you reach Tulum, if you have kids with you, there's the water park Turtle Cove where they can swim with little fish and go down water slides. It's a good lunch spot with clean toilets. If no kids, have lunch at what used to be The Millionaires Club.It's changed names a dozen times, but it's now either the Papaya Cabanas or Posada Punta. The entire area has so grown, that it's now a National Park with many hotel choices. David Russell

    • hathibelagal profile image


      8 years ago from A jungle inn

      This is the most comprehensive guide (in a single page), that I could find about these ruins.

    • PhoenixV profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Truly a great hub and awesome video, whoever made that Youtube video is like a Steven Spellberg lol


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