During my recent travels to Mexico I went to visit Tulum, as I was eager to see the Mayan ruins, explore and see what the area had to offer. This was a first visit to Tulum and I am glad I went. Tulum is about 2 hours from Cancun and 1 hour 20 from Puerto Morelos where I was staying.
Tulum or as it pronounced Tu’lum is a resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, it is the home to the 13th Century walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park which overlooks the sea. The ruins are situated on tall cliffs, about 12 metres in height, along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea side of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo. Tulum was one of the last cities of the Maya, they built and inhabited it from the 12th Century till way into the 15th Century. It survived 70 years after the Spanish occupation of Mexico. This site is thought to be formerly known as ‘Zama’ meaning the City of Dawn, due to it facing the sunrise. Tulum’s name means fence, wall and trench in Yucatan Mayan. It is thought that the population of Tulum was around 1000 to 1600 people then, which I was surprised about as I thought it would have been much higher in number. Tulum was also an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god.
I actually booked a morning trip with Cancun Adventures and took a small minibus to the ruins, there was 8 people in total and the driver. I was met in Tulum by my guide to tour the ruins, as some of us spoke English and others Spanish we took the tour at different times. Half the trip was free time then the tour itself, so during my free time I explored the beach area and coastline which sits directly below the ruins. The area where the ruins are based is so scenic, the beauty of the coastline is breathtaking. You could imagine it being used for an advert on the TV for a tropical location. The sun shone down and I was thankful to the guide, who provided an umbrella for each person at the start, as it was much needed!
The tour lasted about an hour and we walked from ruin to ruin, hearing the stories from each. Asking questions along the way, as there was a a lot of information to take onboard. The guide was very informative and knew his subject well. The most interesting fact I brought from it was that the Mayan people were small in height, this was due to the high amounts of calcium and minerals in the limestone that the water was filtered through then, as it is known when you are growing in childhood i.e. your bones are growing. Having too much calcium or minerals can stunt your growth, this was the outcome for the Mayan people.
The 3 main areas of interest in the Mayan ruins were, El Castillo (the castle), the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. These are the three most famous buildings. The Temple of the Frescoes is an interesting building with lower and second story gallery, this temple was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun! Looking at the El Castillo, it was built in stages and is said to have been built on a previous building. It stands on the clifftop and was built as a watchtower.
If you are visiting Mexico I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Tulum Mayan ruins, as all you need is a couple of hours to take a wander around. It’s a beautiful setting, very interesting, great to explore and it allows you to see another part of this country you probably wouldn’t see. I think if I make another trip to Mexico in the future, I would look to stay nearer Tulum.