Visit the Ruins of Tulum

Tulum An Ancient Mayan Port City

There are several things that set Tulum apart from other archaeological sites along the Riviera Maya. The first is the spectacular location. Tulum clings to the top of a sheer rock cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Situated above a white sand beach where Mayan canoes once docked, carrying cargo's from as far away as Honduras. Tulum was the Mayan center of trade during the 14th and 15th centuries. It was still inhabited when Spanish conquerors arrived, and remained inhabited for 70 years afterward. The golden age of Tulum was during the winding down days of the Mayan culture. Tulum was actually one of many rival city states that rose up after the beginning of Mayan decline.

Because Tulum flourished during a period of tumult and warfare a 16 foot thick protective wall was built around the city. This wall is the second unique thing about Tulum. Most Mayan cities were not protected by walls of this kind.

There are close to 60 well preserved buildings on the site. Some of the most famous are The Temple of the Frescos, The Temple of the Descending God and El Castillo. The interior walls of the Temple of the Frescos are covered in Mayan fresco. Unfortunately, tourists are no longer allowed inside to view the artwork. The Temple of The Descending God is another interesting structure. Carved high over the door of this building is a figure floating upside down. This figure is a representation of the Descending God who seems to be the central god of Tulum. El Castillo is the tallest building in Tulum. It stands overlooking the sea, and is thought to have been a lookout tower and beacon for Mayan sailors.

At the base of the cliff on which the ruins of Tulum are built is a lovely white sand beach. This beach is the most popular spot at the site because many tourists take time to swim in the turquoise waters and relax on the beach after exploring the ruins.

Visiting the ruins of Tulum is rather easy, as it is the third most visited archaeological site on the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins are located about 50 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, and 80 miles out of Cancun. Buses regularly travel between the ruins of Tulum and either Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

Because the ruins are quite compact, it is possible to visit the entire site in just a couple hours. Many tourists choose to combine their visit to the ruins with a trip to Xel-ha or Akumal Bay.

Admission to the ruins is 38 pesos. If you wish to bring a video camera onto the sight it costs 30 pesos extra. Parking is about 1 km or 1/2 mile from the site. You can either walk from the parking lot to the site, or you can catch a tram for a small fee. The sight is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.


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