Archaeologists have speculated that Tulum was at the peak of its power from
the 12th to 14th centuries, which is later than the decline of other major Mayan
settlements. Tulum was still populated when the Spanish discovered it in the
16th century, but soon declined due to the decimation of the Mayan
population resulting from the accidental introduction of diseases
carried by the Spanish.
relatively narrow entryways allowed access to the fortified city from west,
north and south. It is thought that the city functioned as a port , since it
is built near a small, sandy inlet piercing the cliffs. There are a
modest number of buildings here, but the site's size, architecture and
quality of building materials evidences a dramatic decline of the Mayan's
skills and capabilities from their peak in the previous millennium.
It is best to take a tour of the site, since the history and uses
of the building at the site are both fascinating and complex. In addition, most guides
are good story tellers and their information will help you to understand the
glory and uniqueness of the Mayan people and their history.
The major edifice in Tulum, a temple known popularly as the Castle, dominates the
site, but it is shorter, smaller and less rich than the pyramids you will find
at Chichén Itzá, Cobá or other
major Mayan sites. It has been speculated by some that the Castle may
have functioned as a lighthouse. Other historical records indicate that the
building at Tulum were painted in bright colors by the Mayans.
While Tulum may be compact and less "finished" than other Mayan sites, none of the others have as
spectacular a location or as pleasant a setting, so take your time while
In addition, due to its small size it does not take long to tour, unless you
choose to explore every inch.
Be sure to
bring water, a sun hat, suntan lotion and an umbrella. In addition,
the inlet has a fine little beach and you just might want to take a swim, so
be prepared. Tulum is a popular site that is on the tour bus circuit,
so expect large crowds most of the season. If you want good
photos, arrive either early in the day or late in the afternoon, when the
sun's rays seem to make Tulum even more magical.
Next - Return
to our section on the Riviera Maya
Explore the Maya city of Coba
Return to Best Places to Visit in Mexico
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