Tulum, which means wall in Mayan, received that name when it was first discovered and explored in the early 19th century by Juan de Grijalva's expedition to the area. This fortified Mayan city had been used during the Postclassic period around 1200-1450 AD. Juan de Grijalva led the Spanish expedition that first set eyes on Tulum as the fleet traveled west along the Yucatan coast. Although the expedition did not reach land, it recorded several Mayan villages.
Tulum was first mentioned by Juan Díaz, chaplain of Grijalva, who described seeing a tall tower. The explorers ventured to Tulum in 1518, after departing from Havana, Cuba, in April of the same year. The word “Tulum” is colonial and means wall. Researchers have found clues to the original name of Tulum.
It seems that the city was once known as Zama, which means dawn in the Mayan language. When Juan de Grijalva explored Mexico, he came across the walled city in the early 19th century. The Mayans used the fortified city around 1200 to 1450 AD. It remained inhabited until the end of the 16th century.
First established in the 6th century AD, Tulum prospered, especially under the influence of Mayapan since c. Protected by the jungle of Quintana Roo, the site survived the general collapse of the Maya and was largely untouched by the Spaniards. One of the most popular places in Tulum are the ruins of Tulum. This area was occupied by the Mayans since around 1200 AD.
until the 15th century. According to the story of the ruins of Tulum, when the Spaniards arrived in Central America, the inhabitants of this civilization finally fled to the surrounding jungle and lived there for more than 300 years. During that time, Mayan civilization was enveloped by the jungle, but after their discovery in the early 19th century, these amazing structures were discovered and restored to the beauty and strength that we see today. The biggest attraction of the ruins of Tulum is their location.
Built on a cliff facing the rising sun, this ruined site is the only Mayan settlement located on the Caribbean beaches. The views are still described as spectacular, as millions of people visit this Mayan ruin in the Riviera Maya. The earliest date found on the site is A, D. This places Tulum within the Classic Period, although we know that its heyday was much later, 1200 — 1521 AD.
Tulum was the main location of the Maya's extensive commercial network, with sea and land routes that converged here. Artifacts found at or near the site confirm contact with Central Mexico and Central America. Archaeologists found jingle bells and copper rings from Mexican highlands; flint and pottery from Yucatan and jade from Guatemala. Tulum was the center of international trade and responsible for the distribution of goods in Yucatan through Coba, Chichen Itza and the connecting settlements.
It was thought that Tulum was also a religious center for priests with walls that protected sacred leaders. Archaeologists have evidence that the population was killed by the Spaniards when they introduced Old World diseases into the area as a way to destroy the native population. Tulum remained inhabited about 70 years after the Conquest, when it was finally abandoned. Documentation of this death can be found in the writings of Fray Diego de Landa's Observations on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Local Mayans continued to visit temples to burn incense and pray until the end of the 20th century. When visitors arrive at the old pre-Hispanic site of Tulum, they see the buildings that, in their time, were the main center of the city where ceremonial and political activities were carried out. Around this wall were several wooden thatched houses that were workers' homes, but there is little evidence of these residential houses. Plaza de la ciudad — El Castillo — The Castle, sometimes known as the lighthouse, is the tallest building in the settlement of Tulum and the most famous.
It is located at the forefront on the cliff, with a view of the ocean and the coast for miles. The structure went through several stages of construction with the lintels of its upper rooms carved with the motif of the feathered serpent. The rooms are vaulted in classic Mayan style. A small cove is located at the foot of the Castle, where commercial canoes would land on the coast.
The facade of the Temple of the Initial Series has several stucco figures. The stela, which contains the oldest date found on this site, was located inside this building. The Temple of the Frescoes is full of murals that are significantly affected by time and elements. The temple shows vestiges of various construction styles.
The House of Columns is more complex than most of the structures on the site. It is a palace-like structure with four rooms whose main entrance is south facing. Six columns support the ceiling of the main hall and the upper sanctuary. The port and the beach: The beach located at the base of the ruins of Tulum was an important part of the settlement of Tulum.
This area is where Mayan ships docked, dedicated to trade in the Yucatan Peninsula. Today, visitors use this area as a place to swim, snorkel and rest. We love the views of the Caribbean. Without a doubt, this makes Tulum special.
What we also appreciate is the amount of information that is shared about Mayan history when you enter the site. When we first entered the ruins of Tulum in the early 90s, an original entrance through the wall of Tulum was the only way to enter and leave the site. Today, INAH has created a wonderful introduction to the history of the Mayans as you enter the grounds of Tulum. Use your visit to the ruins of Tulum as a way to further investigate the beaches and town of Tulum.
The city and beach are wonderful day trips to the area, unless you've decided to stay at one of the beachfront hotels. Being the best-known and most advertised site in Quintana Roo, Tulum is a “must-see” archaeological site. The site is open from 8:00am. to 5:00 p.m., every day.
Parking is available right next to the highway, past the first traffic light as you enter Tulum. The ancient Mayan civilization still has a lot of history, despite decades of archaeological study. Among the mysteries is what led to the sudden disappearance of what had been a grandiose and expansive civilization. Experts agree that Mayan ruins have not yet been discovered.
Tulum, however, is an open book. Unlike other Mayan cities surrounded by tropical growth, Tulum was the only settlement built on the coast. It also developed in the last years of civilization. Renting a car in the Riviera Maya is something you would want to do if you want the freedom to move around and discover all the incredible places in the region.