Tulum Mayan Ruins
Each Mayan city had a specific purpose, and Tulum Mayan ruins was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade.
As well as being the only Mayan city built on a coast, Tulum was one of the few protected by a wall.
Made of limestone, the 784-metre wall encloses the site on three sides, is seven meters thick, and varies between three and five meters in height. No doubt this fortification helped preserve the seaport.
Similar to the questions which surround the decline of the Mayan world, there are several theories as to why a wall surrounds Tulum. One has a Mayan population of 600 on the inside, protected from invaders. Another suggests only priests and nobility were housed within the walls, while peasants were kept on the outside.
After entering the ruins through one of five doorways in the wall, visitors are greeted by a field of gently rolling hills. Black and grey stone outcroppings, which were once buildings, dot the sunbaked landscape.
Here visitors realize that what is left of Tulum can spark the imagination. Given that the seaport was once a link with the outside world, can there be any clues as to what happened to the civilization here? It’s a question historians and archeologists still grapple with, so don’t be discouraged if an answer isn’t obvious.
Most prominent among the remaining structures is the Castillo, or castle, which is perched on the edge of a 12-metre limestone cliff, overlooking the Caribbean coast. Negotiating its steep steps is best done sideways, a fact which will assert itself on the way down.
Before descending, though, be certain to catch a glimpse of the Caribbean behind the Castillo. The view is as refreshing as the cool breeze coming from the sea.
In front of the Castillo is the Temple of the Frescoes, one of the better-preserved buildings. Peer inside the temple to see a mural painted in three sections. The first level represents the Mayan world of the dead, the middle is that of the living, and the final, highest piece, is of the creator and rain gods.
Interesting to note in the middle of the living section is a god astride a four-legged animal believed to be a horse. If in fact this is a horse, it would mean Mayans still occupied Tulum in 1518 when they would have seen the animals for the first time with the arrival of the Spanish.
Chiseled above the doorway of the temple is a figure with what appears to be bird’s wings and a tail. This diving god is believed to represent a Mayan deity who protected the people and is particularly well-preserved on various buildings around the site.
Piecing together what Tulum was like a millennium ago is exciting, but it can also be a humid venture. That’s why it’s a good idea to take something cold to drink, a hat and a bathing suit.
Just north of the Castillo is a pathway that leads down to a sandy beach and the multi-hued Caribbean. For visual drama, a walk along the beach provides ample opportunity for photographs. The walk is an adventure into, around and under nooks and crannies carved out of the cliffs. Each additional turn brings a new, secluded stretch of the Caribbean, perfect for both swimming and reflecting on the ruins.
Tulum remains popular because of its elegant setting on sheer limestone cliffs above the turquoise splendor of the crashing Caribbean, the only Mayan city built on the coast.
The best way to go to the Tulum ruins is to hire a guide that you can find inside by the bus that takes you down the ruins from the entrance. The guide will tell you more about the history of each of the structures. Don’t forget your suit. There are stairs that lead down to the beautiful white pristine beach and you can swim there.
Coba Mayan Ruins
The ruins of Coba lie 44 km (approx. 27 miles) northwest of Tulum. Coba is located around two lagoons, Lake Coba and Lake Macanxoc. A series of elevated stone and plaster roads radiate from the central site to various smaller sites near and far. Some of these causeways go east and the longest runs over 100 km (62 miles) westwards to the site of Yaxuna. The site contains a group of large temple pyramids known as the Nohoch Nul, the tallest of which, Ixmaja, is some 42 mt (138 ft) in height. Ixmoha is among the tallest pyramids on the Yucatan peninsula.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Coba was first settled between 50 BC and 100AD. At that time, there was a town with buildings of wood and palm fronts and flat platforms. The only archaeological evidence of the time are fragments of pottery. At one time Coba was one of the biggest and most powerful city states in the northern Yucatan area.
When seeing the Coba ruins, there is quite a bit of walking. There are bikes with seats up front for hire. They will ride you around if you don’t want to walk the ruins. There are guides for hire here, too. I recommend a guide, so you don’t miss out on the history.
Muyil Mayan Ruins
Muyil ruins, also known as Chunyaxche, was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) south of Tulum. Artifacts found here date back from as early as 350 BC to as late as 1200-1500 AD.
It is situated on the Sian Kaan lagoon, a name meaning “Where the Sky is Born”. Muyil was located along a trade route on the Caribbean once accessible via a series of canals. They did trade in Jade, obsidian, chocolate, honey, feather, chewing gum and salt. It is believed that Muyil had strong ties to the center of Coba.
The settlement covers 38 hectares of lush jungle and is home to countless Ceiba trees, which are known as the “tree of life” and were revered by the Maya because of their belief that the trees could connect them to the underworld. The Muyil lagoon is nearby.
These are the closest Tulum Mayan ruins. When going to see them, pack water with you. You will becomet thirsty from the walking and sometimes it can be quiet toasty out. They truly are a site to see. Cheers!!!