Tulum sits on the edge of a cliff facing looking out over the vast turquoise ocean. No wonder Tulum is one of the most-visited Mayan ruins in Mexico -it truly is one of the most magical places on Earth.
Tulum is located 82 miles south of Cancun on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on the edge of the Caribbean Sea and was formerly know by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn.
Tulum – the walled city
Tulum is also the ancient Maya word for ‘wall’. This is apt because the walls surrounding the site allowed the fort in Tulum to be used as a defense against invasion. Tulum was protected on one side by steep sea cliffs and on the other by a wall that averaged about three to five meters in height. The wall was about eight meters thick and 400 meters long on the side parallel to the sea. This shows how important defense was to the Mayan people. There are also small structures used as watch towers showing again how well defended the city would have been.
El Castillo (the Castle)
El Castillo stands some 7.5 meters tall and has a small shrine which appears to have been used as a beacon for incoming canoes. This shrine marks a break in the barrier reef that is opposite the site. Right below El Castillo there is a cove and landing beach in a break in the sea cliffs that would have been perfect for trading canoes coming in. This characteristic of the site is probably one of the reasons the Maya founded the city of Tulum here in the first place, for later Tulum would become a very prominent trading port.
El Castillo as well as the Temple are decorated with figures of the Mayan ‘diving god’. You see stuccos and figurines of this god all around Tulum. He was associated with the god of the bees and to the planet Venus, guardian of the coast and of commerce. Many ancient murals are visible, some vivid enough to make you wonder how recently the Maya actually left this amazing place.
Tours to Tulum
Its naturally beautiful surroundings, easy access and daily tours to Tulum from Cancun have made it the third most visited Mayan archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan, and Chichen Itza.
For more information regarding how to get to Tulum or how to book a tour you can contact one of the many tour companies in Cancun. Make sure you fit this piece of Mayan culture into your Cancun vacation – you will be inspire