Everywhere around the ruins you can see iguanas. It's almost like they have inhabited the site, and are carefully watching their precious ruins. They have the same color as the stones so it can be quite hard to see them sometimes. But don't worry, they don't like it if you come too close so then they just turn and run away from you.
Iguanas have actually been a source of food for thousands of years. The most normal is to sautee them in onion, tomatoes and chilly. If anyone has ever tried it please tell me how it tasted. Personally I prefer watching them from a distance... ;)
It is believed that Tulum was first occupied around 1200 AD, and they continued building untill after the spanish arrived. A fresco even shows a Mayan God standing next to a horse, and horses were imported by the spanish. The indians gave the spanish a hard struggle, and the place was abandoned about 70 years after the spanish began their conquest of Mexico.
Tulum have actually been the place of Indian rebellions towards both the Spanish and the Mexicans up untill the twentieth century. The site is protected by walls on three sides and the sea on the fourth side, which makes it a good fort. The word Tulum is mayan and means wall.
The main reason for going to Tulum is the maya ruins, the long white beaches and the turquise sea. The best of all is that you can do all of this at the same time. The ruins of Tulum are not the greatest of the Maya ruins. The thing that makes it so spesial is the location.
The ruins are perched on a cliff, overlooking the beach and the sea. It's great to walk around and enjoy the ruins, and then to relax on the beach and cool down in the sea, before you head back to the ruins again.
The last week of august I was invited to go to the Bahia Principe and photograph a wedding. As I was surfing the net to see what was to see and do in Cancun I came across the ruins at Tulúm and discovered that they were only 20 minutes from our hotel. But what impressed me the most was the location; here you have the history of the Mayas with the fabulous Caribbean Sea. The water has an emerald turquoise color you only find in these tropical beaches with water at a temperature of about 25 Celsius.
So I asked my bride-to-be if she loves the camera and it turned out that she did. I showed her some pictures of Tulúm and said that it would be an opportunity of a lifetime to take some wedding photographs in Tulúm. My only regret was the amount of people there and the fact that we only had about 2 hours for sightseeing as well as do the wedding picture.
We are going back in January of 2005 and this time we are not going with a prearranged tour, but will either arrange our own arrangement by taxi, rental car or public bus. I want to take the time to really photograph the ruins as complete as possible, but also take time to enjoy the beach, and the surrounding area.
You can do the ruins in 2 hours or less and that will give you all the highlights of the Tulum ruins. However if you are a professional photographer like myself or an advanced photographer you will want to take the time to photographs not only the main buildings but also many of the details in each building. This way you can create a story and give you photographs flavour and interest.
Well keep this page in mind as I will be adding additional information later.
The Mayan Ruins here are on a cliff overlooking the sea. The moment I set eyes on this place my breath was taken away. It is hard to describe the beauty of this small part of the earth. If you go, I highly recommend taking your own car. It is only a few US dollars to get in and tour busses can run you upwards of $90 US. Also, you can hire a private guide when you get there if that is what you really want, so there is no need to put up with accomodating yourself to the schedule of the bus tour when you can see everything there is to see in about an hour or so. There is a beach and swimming is allowed, so bring a suit if that is your thing. I also recommend paying the 20 pesos for a bus ride from the parking lot to the ruins, especially if it is hot--and it usually is. The outskirts of the ruins are full of nice gift shops and places to eat.
The ruins themselves of Tulum will not impress you nearly as much as the ones in Uxmal or Chichen Itza. They are a lot smaller and there is not as much detail as some of the other sites. However with the Caribean backdrop behind the temples, the package is unbielievable. I think it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo and am sure this spot has made many peoples vacation.
These are the ruins of different Maya Temples.
As you could see in the picture there is a hole on the left building, one day a year moon lighting go through that hole and made a figure on the building for the chaman.
This building was the residence of the most important people of Tulum. There are benches along the wall which were used as seats and perhaps as beds and a sanctuary in the back of the building where they held religious ceremonies.
Besides the main buildings mentioned previously, some other can be seen inside the walls:
> El Gran Palácio (Great Palace)
> El Grupo del Norte (Northern Group)
> La Casa del Cenote (House of Cenote)
> El Templo del Viento (Temple of Wind)
> El Grupo del Sur (Southern Group)
> El Templo del Mar (Temple of Sea)
Tulum is located about 130 km from Cancún and it's easily accessible, whether you are driving, using public transportation or on a guided tour. There is a huge parking space were you will get off the bus. There you will find lots of shops; i wouldn't advise you to buy anything there, except cool water, since prices seem to be more expensive. However buying cool water can be usefull since Tulum is very hot and there is nowhere else where you can get water when you leave the shops.
From the parking space to Tulum ruin's entry you must walk about 1km. I saw a kind of touristic train going by, but i think it's not worth getting it. Most people were walking, since it is a straight road.
The opening hours are:
> from 8am to 5pm (i don't remember how much i paid)
> free entrance on Sundays
Since there are so many guided tours around you can easily hear what those guides are saying. You will most certainly listen to english, spanhish and german speaking guides.
Tulum social hierarchy was:
> Dominant Class, in charge of Government and Religion, as well as taking care of public acts, astronomical observation and commerce.
> Middle Class, that performed activities that were essential to the society such as burocratic work and crafstmen - painting, working woods, sculpting and so on.
> Working Class, that performed tasks as agriculture, hunting and fishing. This social class was the less privileged and the most numerous.
Tulum was "discovered" by the spanish conquerors on the 16th century who considered it a most beautiful city, comparing it to Seville.
Tulum was a Mayan city built around AD1000 on a limestone cliff by the Caribbean Sea. It was once a major center for commerce and a pilgrimage destiny and it is said that it is the greatest Mayan city by the sea.
The ruins have a wall around them, and few Mayan cities are walled like Tulum. Two probable explanations for the walls: to defend the city or to separate the royalty and the ceremonial center from the other people.
Probably these walls named the city: the name Tulum comes from the Yucatec word that means wall. And some believe that the city's original name was "place of the dawn".