Rediscover the Mayan ruins of Tulum

 What you’ll see at Zamá, the ancient city of Tulum!

On the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo, we find the mysterious and powerful walled city of Tulum. One of those places where time appears to have stood still.

The Archaeological Zone, or “Mayan ruins,” and the nights of Tulum Beach make a very attractive contrast. The most Mayan thing you can find in Tulum is undoubtedly the “Ruins”. You have to visit it when you go to the Riviera Maya.

We say this because we were among the first to get caught up in the commotion of the hotel zone and beach clubs the night before.

So, after being in the midst of all the chaos of people walking or cycling and cars passing through the area’s rustic streets, this visit gave us the impression that we were on two separate trips within a 5-mile radius.

One moment we were in some kind of Balinese, tribal setting, very expensive and luxurious, and the next day we found ourselves in this mystical and ancient landscape. The truth is, what a change of scenery! What a real trip!

Ready to learn a little about this place? Let us be your history channel guide!

Mayan ruins of Tulum

The most important, and probably the main reason to visit this place, is to see the  “Castillo del Mar” one of the most typical postcards of the Riviera Maya, but there is more to the entire place. You are about to take a quantic leap to what the past looks like today.

Take your time to see this place

We went on a Friday, and it was packed with people, so we recommend you take at least a couple of hours to complete the visit since the archaeological zone is larger than it seems, and you’ll see why. At least 60 Mayan ruins can be found throughout the ancient city, which is surrounded by three walls. And no, we are not going to show all 60 ruins in this post. Remember, that’s why you need a few hours to see it all!

Where to park, and how much it is to get inside. Parking 300 pesos at Playa Los Pescadores and entrance fee to the Mayan Ruins is 90 pesos. Oh! and if you are Mexican it’s free on Sunday.

The Tulum Mayan Ruins seen from the shore of the beach are a spectacle.
It is worth seeing them from the sea, you can buy a tour in Tulum park, there are information centers and ticket sales.

Now, let’s start with a little history about Tulum:

Templo de los Frescos

The Mayans were around for at least 3,000 years. Way before the arrival of the Europeans, the Maya flourished as the most advanced civilization in Mesoamerica. A great empire
They mastered astronomy, developed a complex written language, left behind exquisite artifacts, and built imposing monuments and cities.

How old is Tulum?

According to historians, it is believed that this city was built between 1200 and 1500 AD, but they are not sure if perhaps they started in 500 AD.

Anyway, the City was original, known as Zama, which means “Dawn”. The name Tulum means “wall,” but this name was given when the empire fell and this city fell abandoned in the middle of the jungle.

The abandonment of this city had already begun before the arrival of the Spaniards and it was completely abandoned at the end of the 16th century.

What were the contributions of the Mayans?

Museo de Antropologia Mexico
Maya Calendar Museo de Antropologia Mexico
Imagine an empire that lasts 3,000 years.

The contributions to humanity were many. We know that they were great architects of history. They built cities, pyramids, temples, and palaces. It was like Dubai at the time. They practiced their trade well.
They were excellent with everything related to textiles. They made clothes using ink on the fabrics. Very “fashionistas”

The famous Mayan calendar is perhaps not the first, but it is certainly quite similar to the one we use today.

Using a calendar was critical in determining sowing and harvest times, as well as times of peace and war.

They also introduced the use of the number 0. Yes, the Mayans used zero as a well-developed mathematical concept in their number system before any other civilization. The Mayans were extremely intelligent.  Can you imagine your life without the Cero?

Museo de Antropologia Mexico


The Mayan Cosmovision

The worldview of the Mayan people has always been that in nature everything is found, integrated, ordered, and interrelated. Everything has its value and needs to make its small contribution for everything to be in harmony.

This Mayan cosmoview is the proper way of seeing, understanding, and living the meaning of life. All of their Sacred rituals, codices, stone inscriptions, technology, art, weaving, music, oral tradition, and other elements all help to explain this worldview.

“The creator of the cosmos, the earth, and man.”

Similar to western religions, Hunab Ku is considered one of the main gods of the Mayas. This god is said to be invisible, incorporeal, and omnipresent.

The name given to this god means “a single god.” He is also thought to be the Mayan indigenous Itzamná’s ancestor.  Itzamna was the original and sole Creator of men. He was a good god, considered the lord of the skies, of the day, and of the night.



When conquistador Juan Diaz visited Tulum during an expedition in 1518 he described Tulum as a city as big as Seville.

Tulum Zona Arqueologica

The city remained abandoned and forgotten. Some folks from neighboring towns visited the site to bring offerings, but the continuous flow of tourists put the practice out of use.

Moving foward, in 1841, Tulum was rediscovered by the American traveler John Lloyd and the British archaeologist Frederick Catherwood.

They made the first detailed publication of the ruins in their book “Incidents of travel to Yucatan” in 1843. Of course, I google it and found this.

“The most extensive journey ever made by a stranger in that peninsula, and contain the account of visits to forty-four ruined cities, or places in which remains or vestiges of the ancient population were found.”
This is a picture we took back in the Anthropology Museum in Mexico
The architecture of Tulum is typical of the Mayan cities on the east coast of the peninsula and similar to that of Chichen Itza, only smaller.

At one point, Tulum was the most protected cities of the ancient Mayas. It was protected, by the cliffs that separated it from the sea and, on land, by a great wall 400 meters long!

For the Mayans, it was important to plan the construction well according to cosmology. Therefore, the construction of Tulum is based on the concept of the “four corners” which is the four cardinal points. The same points that in turn arise from the ancient cosmic pattern of five points. Anyway, important sh*t that no one has told you.

Map Mayan Ruins Tulum

The city is quadrilateral, according to historians, this represented an orderly, rational world made for gods and men alike.

Let’s go tour around The Tulum Mayan Ruins:

The House of the Great Walls, or the Great Palace

The House of the Great Walls, or the Great Palace

La Casa de las Columnas

In each corner, you can see “balames” (from the name Balam, which means jaguar in the Mayan language.) Balames protect the entrances to the town as guardians.

The House of the Great Walls, or the Great Palace

This temple is located in front of the House of Halach Uinic, or the Great Lord, which houses many carvings and paintings.

El Templo de Los Frescos

Among the more spectacular buildings here is the Temple of the Frescos. The Temple of the Frescos was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun.  The attribution El Fresco (which means “fresh”) is given because of paints in the mural inside.  Representations of female and male deities are still conserved.  Also, drawings of intertwined snakes and offerings dedicated to the gods. We couldn’t appreciate any of the paints from the outside, but that is what the sign said.

Templo de Los Frescos


The Castle “El Castillo” Tulum Mayan Ruins

Doesn’t it look like a photo from a postcard?

Maya Ruins Tulum

A large platform gives access to the best-known structure of the Tulum Maya Ruins is: EL CASTILLO.  This building stands in a height of almost 8 meters, and is located in the central area.

Although it cannot be appreciate it in the photos, the upper frames have snake carvings on them and other details.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
You can see the layout of The Castillo on top of a former structure with a columned roof made stone.

It is believed that the structure of the castle acted as a beacon to direct canoes and ships to safety.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

Recinto Ceremonial

Templo Del Sol Descendente Maya

A deity can be seen with its head facing forward, its arms dangling and its legs bent upwards in a descending position, as if descending from heaven.

The Descending God is shown in carvings and other forms on El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God at Tulum.

According to the archaeologist of French origin Alberto Ruz Lhuillier (1905-1979) maintained:

The idea of a god descending from the sky is very common among the Mesoamerican peoples, so it is possible that the Descending God of Tulum is not necessarily the sun, but perhaps the rain, the lightning, or the bee”.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

El Templo Del Viento, Tulum Mayan Ruins

The name of the temple of the God of Wind.

This wind god has been associated with Ehécatl- Quetzalcoatl the wind deity in central Mexico. For the Mayans, this deity is Kukulkan.

The god of the wind is again related to the four cardinal points. The temple’s name comes from the roundness of its base, which has no corners because the wind blows in all directions.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

A cove and landing beach in a break in the sea cliffs would have been ideal for trading canoes coming in.

This feature of the site could be one of the reasons the Maya established Tulum exactly here, as Tulum later became a prominent trading port during the late Postclassic period.

Castillo del Viento Tulum Maya Ruins

The Mayan Heaven.

For the Mayans, their vision of the celestial vault was supported by four gods called Bacabés. These four gods were associated with the four cardinal points. They also believed in a sacred ceiba, a tree that provided sustenance to the first men.

Mayan Religions


Castillo del Viento Tulum Maya Ruins


This Mayan city was an astronomy school attended by noble Aztecs, Zapotecs, and other cultures at the time of its splendor.

Castillo del Viento Tulum Maya Ruins

La Casa De los Cenotes,Tulum Mayan Ruins

Casa de cenotes Tulum Maya Ruins

Casa de los Cenotes

Tulum Mayan Ruins

What caused the Mayans to abandon their mighty city?

Good question.  Nobody has come up with a reasonable explanation for why such a powerful economic and military culture collapsed so abruptly and violently. As of today, it is not yet known for certain what occurred.

In fact, some paleontologists claim there was a drought and earthquakes. On the other hand, some claim there was a lack of corn, and others claim they were vulnerable to climate change. However, they all agree,  that the Mayan Empire was already in decline before the Spanish arrived.

Today, Tulum Mayan Ruins receives 2 million visits per year and is the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico.

There isn’t a word to describe all the beauty the place emits when you walk around, but the energy perceived is out of this world… Perhaps it was an Illuminati Experience? Maybe… tell us, what you think.












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