Mayan Ruins of Tulum Mexico
Maya Ruins in Tulum Mexico, off the Yucatan Peninsula
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
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
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.