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Articles > North America > Mexico > Exploring the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

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Exploring the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
Tulum, located 15 miles south of Akumal, was once called "Zama", meaning "place of the dawning". This breathtaking location which sits on a cliff facing the east Caribbean shoreline offers many Mayan ruins and ocean views for a day or short visit.

It is usually thought that Tulum was an important city in Mayan world between 1000 A.D. and 1600 A.D. Only the elite Mayans lived there, where the vast views of the sea suggest the remains of an ancient country club. However, a 20-foot wall surrounds the site to keep invaders from both land and sea from entering Tulum.

This location was one of the first Mexican towns discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors, though the high walls dissuaded them from entering it. At that time, Tulum was the only city still thriving when it was discovered.

It was the major area of resistance during the 19th century War of the Castes, though later surrendered and signed a treaty with the Mexican government in 1935. In recent years, Tulum has become a major tourist attraction in the Mayan Riviera for those who like ancient architecture and craftsmanship.

Structures throughout Tulum boast several columns and intricate carvings. The most famous building structures in the city include the Temple of the Frescoes, Castillo Pyramid, and the Temple of the Diving God.

The Temple of the Frescoes is famous for housing multiple 13th century murals which picture ancient ceremonies highly regarded by the Mayans. One such mural depicts the Mayan goddess of fertility and medicine, Ixchel, which is extremely rare. Outside, pieces of the stucco are still painted red; it is believed that at one time the entire city was encompassed in this same paint.

The Castillo Pyramid is known as a scenic location offering multiple breathtaking opportunities and climbing options. Small windows in the structure were perhaps once used to view the ocean and secure the city against unfriendly sea invaders.

The Temple of the Diving God boasts a figure above the depicts a man diving headfirst toward the earth. Two similar frescoes are found at Coba in the Grand Pyramid, and are believed to reference the planet Venus. The figure may also be called "the bee god" or "the god descending".

Tulum offers a unique view into the lifestyles and living spaces of the elite Mayan civilization members. Contrasted with the beautiful carvings and superb architecture, the high walls speak to the city's resistance to influence from outsiders over several thousand years.
About the Author
It is only about a 15 minute drive from our villa in Akumal to the Tulum ruins. More free travel articles.
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