While in Tulum Jen and I were lucky enough to experience the Tulum Ruins. They are located on the very North End of Beach Rd. Beach Rd. dead ends at the ruins. Easy to get to by walking, biking or taking a cab. We walked the beach part way and then were forced by terrain and fences to walk the rest along Beach Rd. It was a beautiful twenty minute walk.
We had read that early arrival is best, so we got there a few minutes after it opened at 8am. After $11 US each we were in and enjoying the wildlife and jungle. A few other people had the same idea as us. A good tip, get there early.
The name of the site, which means “enclosure,” is probably modern. Its original name is believed to have been Zama, or “Dawn,” reflecting the west-east alignment of its buildings.
The Tulum site is surrounded by a 16 ft thick wall on three sides, interrupted by five gates. The entrance to the ruins is about a 5-minute walk from the archaeological site. The entrance is in the city square which includes artisans’ stands, a bookstore, a museum, a restaurant, several large bathrooms, and a ticket booth.
The main god honored at Tulum is the “diving god,” or “Descending God,” depicted on several buildings as an upside-down figure above doorways.
Seen also at the Palace at Sayil and Cobá, the curious, almost comical figure is also known as the bee god. He is probably associated with the setting sun.
The largest and most prominent building at Tulum is El Castillo (The Castle). Located closest to the sea, it probably served as a landmark for sailors.
A temple as well as a fortress, El Castillo was originally covered with stucco and painted red. A wide external staircase leads up to the temple, which has three niches above the doorway. A beautiful sculpture of the descending god is in the central niche.
The Temple of the Frescoes, directly in front of the Castillo, was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. It contains interesting 13th-century frescoes, though visitors are no longer permitted to enter.
Distinctly Maya, the frescoes represent the rain god Chaac and Ixchel, the goddess of weaving, women, the moon, and medicine. Supernatural serpants are also a common motif. On the cornice of this temple is a relief of the head of the rain god. If you pause a slight distance from the building, you’ll see the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin. Remains of the red-painted stucco can still be seen.
To the left of El Castillo as you face the sea is the Temple of the Descending God, with a small staircase and a carving over the door of the swooping figure that is seen throughout the site.
Just north of El Castillo is the Kukulcán Group, made of several minor structures. Especially notable is the Templo del Dios del Viento (Temple of the God of the Wind), named for its round base.
On the white-sand beach below El Castillo, where the Maya once came ashore, tourists swim and sunbathe. Many combine a visit to the ruins with a dip in the Caribbean.
The beach at the Tulum Ruins is amazing. If you are in Tulum don’t miss it! BUT, go early. As we were leaving the tour busses were pouring in. Hundreds of people entering the park at once. Glad we went when we did. All pictures were taken by Jen and I with a Nikon P90 and iPhones.