You’ve probably heard of the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Perhaps you’ve seen travel photos of Tulum’s iconic Temple of the Wind (shown above)?
Beautifully laid out, Tulum may be the most accessible of the ancient Mayan cities you can explore in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
The Mayan founders of Tulum sure knew how to pick their real estate!
Poised atop a 40-foot rugged limestone cliff, Tulum overlooks the turquoise Caribbean – it’s the only Mayan city ever built by the sea. The views are staggering. And steep stairs lead a long way down to one of the prettiest beaches you’ll ever see, with the whitest sand, where, yes, you can swim.
The Mayan ruins of Tulum are easy to visit now
The present archaeological site is a far cry from the crumbling Mayan ruins of Tulum we traipsed about years ago. It’s been extensively restored since.
Now gravel paths, lined by coral rocks, wind through manicured lawns. The monuments and buildings, many restored, are roped off. No more climbing up or trying to peek inside – preservation comes first!
Here and there, a few trees also provide some shade, where you and fellow pink-skinned visitors may huddle around your guide (recommended, to fully appreciate this fascinating cultural marvel) – but the site is open to the blazing sun apart from these shady patches. No wonder the iguanas love it!
There’s a parking lot with shopping stalls too at the entrance.
You can even take a little, open-air train from here to the ruins! (Or, like us, you can just walk the 1,000-odd feet).
All of this means that the Mayan ruins of Tulum are much easier to navigate today. And with English signboards, you can even understand what you’re seeing without having to refer to your dog-earred Lonely Planet :-).
We admit, though, that we missed the haunting wildness of the lonely ruins we experienced years ago (a little, anyway). Then, we felt like true explorers who had just stumbled upon mysterious ancient structures in a jungle clearing.
But of course, with better accessibility comes a much better understanding of the ancient Mayan culture…
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Most gawk-worthy building?
The Castillo (or castle) is the building that really gets you gawking. It’s Tulum’s largest structure and the one closest to the sea.
The Templo de los Frescos (Temple of the Paintings) is also noteworthy.
We couldn’t enter the inner temple to see the colored decorative murals inside (visitors are no longer allowed in).
But on the outside walls, we could make out stucco reliefs of the “Descending God” (the main god honored at Tulum), shown as an upside-down figure.
And looking closely, we also saw distinct red-colored handprints, original Mayan drawings, on the upper level.
Okay, so much for the overall picture.
Now, how about a few nuggets (some pretty offbeat!) about the Mayan ruins of Tulum, and the people who lived there?
Here’s what we learned from our Mayan guide:
Have you visited the Tulum Mayan ruins? Are you glad you did?
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.