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Tulum

Tulum is a magical place.  Situated atop high bluffs on the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula facing the Caribbean Sea, it played an important role as a port for the large Mayan city complex at Coba.  When the Spanish explorer Juan de Grijalva first sighted Tulum in 1518 he would have been astonished by the vibrant blue and red hues that covered its walls. Tulum was one of the last Mayan cities and flourished for 200 years before the Spanish and survived about 70 years after the conquest of Yucatan.


Tulum is one of the best preserved Mayan centers in the Yucatan.  It was called Zama (place of the dawning) by the Mayans because it faces east into the rising sun.  It overlooks one of the most spectacular beaches on the Caribbean coast so when you visit the ruins on your next trip to the Mexican Riviera be sure to bring a bathing suit.

The beach at Tulum

Since Kongo has spent a great deal of time at sea he was particularly fascinated by the navigation innovations the Mayans developed at Tulum.  Since this was an important trading port it was necessary to develop a way to safely navigate the dangerous reefs that sit offshore.  The Mayans built a sophisticated navigational range in a structure now known as El Castillo.  When approaching Tulum from the sea mariners steered a course to keep the windows of El Castillo properly aligned to safely pass through a narrow channel in the offshore reef.

El Castillo

Another view of El Castillo from the rear

The Temple of the Frescoes is another interesting building at Tulum.  Fragments of colored murals can still be seen inside the structure, including a man on a horse which indicates that the site was still active after the Spanish arrived since horses were unknown in the New World before the arrival of Columbus.  There is also a depiction of human hands on the outside of the building.

Temple of the Frescoes

Temple of the Frescoes

A look inside the Temple of the Frescoes

Hands across the centuries on the wall of the Temple of the Frescoes

The third major building at Tulum was an observatory.  Tracking the sun, moon, and stars was an important part of Mayan culture and enabled them to create the famous Mayan calendar which just happens to reset itself this year in December (or is it the end of the world?)

The observatory at Tulum

Of course, after a long day at the ruins, Kongo appreciates the swim up bar at the Adventura Spa Palace.  Kongo is a member of the Palace Resorts and always stays in one of their fantastic facilities when visiting Cancun or Playa de Carmen.

Tulum is about 80 miles south of Cancun and is easily reached by bus or car.  Most resorts have buses that can take you there easily.  Tulum is on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo.

Travel safe.  Have fun

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About Kongo (664 Articles)
Kongo is a traveling monkey owned by a nice man who has a soft spot for simians. Follow Kongo at www.travel-monkey.me and on Twitter @kongomonkey

1 Comment on Tulum

  1. Kongo, you travel to so many interesting places! Tulum particularly fascinates me, especially El Castillo and it’s navigational windows.

    Like

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