Apart from Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan, Tulum Ruins is third of the archeological attractions in Mexico that is most-visited by tourists. An average of 3200 visitors travel to Tulum Ruins which is a part of the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum Ruins sits approximately 40-45 minutes away from Playa del Carmen in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. In my quest to explore places, I embarked on a journey to the Ruins of Tulum to know what made it one of the most-visited sites in Mexico.
The ruins’ close proximity to the main road is one of the reasons why it is most-visited by tourists. From the main drop off point / parking area, you’ll get to engage in an approximately 300-400m walk to get to the entrance of Tulum. There are trees along the paved road so you can walk under its shed to escape the midday sun. While walking, you can see some iguanas that you can hold and take a picture with for a fee. If you do not feel like walking you can ride the tram service to take you to the entrance. At the end of the lengthy road you can already see the ruin’s walls.
2. Tulum Ruins is One of the Best-Preserved Coastal Maya Sites
Since its discovery in 1843, several works and efforts have been made to restore the site and the structure’s integrity. It has been regarded as one of the most-preserved Coastal Maya Sites in Mexico.
Tulum was formerly known as Zama which means “City of Dawn” as it faces the East. The ancient civilization thrived during the 13th – 15th century up until 70 years after the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Illness brought about by the Spaniards took a heavy blow on the Maya people and had resulted in high casualties thus by the end of the 16th century the walled city was totally abandoned.
There are 5 small entry points going in to the main compound; two on both the north and south side and one on the west. It just proved that the Maya people’s defenses were very important as Tulum was a well-fortified site during the old times.
Here below are some of the structures that are still intact.
- Temple of the God of the Wind (Templo Dios del Viento)
It served as a watchtower looking over Tulum’s entrance by the sea. The temple is nested at the edge of a cliff fronting the immense Caribbean Sea.
- The Castle (El Castillo)
At the heart of the compound lies The Castle or “El Castillo”. A 25-foot, pyramid-shaped structure situated opposite the Temple of the God of the Wind separated by a cove in between. Behind it, is the vast Caribbean Sea. It has two other smaller temples on each side, the Temple of the Descending God to its right and the Temple of Initial Series to the left. El Castillo’s architecture reminded me of the temple in the animated movie “The Road to El Dorado”. 🙂
- Cenote House
Under this structure is where the Maya people used to get fresh water. According to Wikipedia, “Cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that exposes ground water.”
- Temple of the Fresco
According to Wikipedia, The Temple of the Frescoes was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. It is located right in front of The Castle, most of the structure is still intact. You can still see a very detailed carving of a face engraved on its pillars’ corners.
3. Mesmerizing Sea View
In my opinion, the mesmerizing seascape in Tulum is the top-most reason why tourists flock to the site. It feels sublime as soon as you see the panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea with the ruins in the foreground. It’s as if you would want to jump off the cliff and plunge into the waters real quick.
The edge of the cliff and the wooden view deck structure with a ladder going down to the beach is always almost full with tourists. Why not?! The sparkly wide open blue green Caribbean Sea in the background is just heavenly. But don’t you worry you can still get a decent picture without too many people in it if you move towards the other end of the cliff going towards the exit.
There is also a Sea Turtle’s Nest on the cove in between the Temple of the God of the Wind and El Castillo. During the olden days, this beach was the landing area of sea trader’s canoes that were coming in to Tulum. Now, this part of the beach is off limits to tourists. From here is an impressive view of the cliff walls of The Castle.
4. Tulum Ruins Beach
Bursting with its tantalizing charms, to revel in Tulum Beach is another reason why most tourists would want to go and visit Tulum Ruins. This fine white sand beach with bluish green clear waters is located right at the foot of the cliff behind El Castillo. The massive sea walls and enormous rocks scattered on the beach would be a great backdrop for photo ops.
Entrance Fee: $ 65 – Mexican Peso (as of Dec 2016)
Bring your swim wear – at least you’re ready just in case you find the beach hard to resist. 🙂
Exchange your money for local currency. Although they accept ($) USD, most establishments would prefer Mexican Peso. You may be overcharged due to incorrect conversion that’s why it would be better to pay with local currency.
Apply sun protection, put on a hat, bring lots of water.
Basic Spanish would come in handy but you can always find someone who speaks English. I just wish that I took my online Spanish class seriously. 🙂
Tripods for DSLR cameras are not allowed but selfie sticks are permitted. You need to get a permit from INAH or the National Institute of Anthropology and History to take a tripod in the compound, better not to bring it at all. I always bring my tripod when I travel because I do not like to ask someone to take a picture of me. Well, I guess I need to learn to start asking. 🙂
Have you been to Tulum? Share your experience.
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