Tulum was a beautifully located coastal port believed to have been one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. The ruins of Tulum provide a glimpse into the life of the Mayan people living from 500 – 700 years ago. It was protected on one side by a steep cliff and on the other by what was believed to have been about a 15 foot tall wall that was around 25 feet thick and over 1000 feet long. Defense of the city was obviously very important to the Mayans.
The ruins included three major structures:
- El Castillo – a shrine that is believed to have been used as a beacon for incoming trading partners
- Temple of the Frescoes – used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun
- Temple of the Diving/Descending God – central to the site so it is believed to be a key God
We considered seeing the ruins as necessary since the upcoming “end of the Mayan calendar” had some folks predicting the end of the world. It was cool to see firsthand the structures that were built by these folks.
You can also trek down to the beach at the base of the cliffs and take a swim in the ocean water. We passed on this option because we wanted to leave time for a same day trip to Xel Ha.
The ruins at Tulum are smaller than those we previously saw at Chicken Itza but the trip is shorter. When the gals are older we will consider making another trip to Chicken Itza which was named one of the new 7 wonders of the world in 2006 which happens to be the year that Susan and I visited the site. We decided to visit Tulum this time because the trip was shorter and would be enough to give the gals an introduction to the Mayan culture and architecture. We’d recommend visiting Tulum if visiting with younger children and Chicken Itza if visiting with older children.