I am a hard core fan of Mayan ruins (just take a deep look at my site).
When I visited the Riviera Maya, Chichen Itza and Tulum were two of the must see spots.
But Tulum, well, that’s another story. In terms of architecture, I have to describe the site as simple. Ohhh, and it is a very small archeological place. The city had an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants. Compare that number to the ones of bigger Mayan sites (who had more than 20,000 inhabitants at their peak periods).
The original name of the city was Zama, which means City of Dawn. Experts believe the city was the port of the nearby (and much bigger) site of Coba. Tulum was strategically located between sea and land trading routes. Obsidian was one of the most traded products in the area.
There are three main structures located in the ruins: El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. The site can be seen in about an hour.
The city was protected from sea invaders by steep sea cliffs. The part facing the land was surrounded by a 16 feet (5 m) wall. This is one of the things I enjoyed mostly about the ruins. The wall and watchtowers are still standing. You enter the site by walking thru a gate. This made me feel like I was entering a forbidden place.
The other thing that justifies a visit to this site? Its location. Remember those cliffs I mentioned on the previous paragraph? Well, they are the ones who made Tulum famous. It is the combination of ancient Mayan temples against a turquoise colored sea which shoot the ruins to international fame. The disappointment I was feeling after looking at the ruins faded away when I stood near the edge of the cliffs. The winds, the sea, the sky, the sand and temples formed a perfect combination. At that moment, I felt the magic of the place.
Of course, we couldn’t resist the call of the sea and had to jump straight to the water. We stayed there until the guards kicked us out. The ruins changed to a different color under the pale sun rays.
My verdict: Tulum would be nothing without its fantastic location. The Mayas, for sure, knew what they were doing.
Here is Tulum in pictures:
- Even though Tulum cannot be described as grandiose, hordes of tourists visit it every day. Try to visit as early as possible or after 3:00 p.m. You would have enough time to have a good look since the city is small.
- The site is located 81 miles (131 km) from Cancun. That is a 2 hours drive each way. Consequently, a paid excursion will cost you $75 to $100. Think carefully if you want to spend that money on this small and simple site. In my case, I visited because I stayed a few days in town.
Have you visited Tulum? What is your opinion of the site? Let me know in the comments section below.