Tulum, Archaeological Site

Tulum is the most important archaeological site on Mexico's Caribbean coast. Tulum is protected on one side by ocean cliffs, and on the other by a stone wall. The ruins are small enough to be visited in an hour or so.

The main attraction of the archaeological site of Tulum is the combination of the beautiful beach and the well preserved ruins facing the Caribbean Sea. You can still see the wall surrounding it. Probably the most famous building is the Castle or Lighthouse, which is the tallest building, facing the sea. It is believed that the Maya used it as a lighthouse for the boats coming from Cozumel.

Another building you have to visit is the Temple of the Descending God. There are some figures carved on the façade, and inside the temple you can still observe some of the paintings the Maya used to decorate it.

North of the Castle, you can visit several small structures, called the Kukulcan Group, with many temples. One of the most outstanding is the Temple of the God of the Wind without doubt, with its round base.

Tulum is located South of Cancun (about 2 hours) and Playa del Carmen (1 hour). The ruins are a few kilometers before the actual city of Tulum. There is a large parking lot with souvenirs stores around. It is easy to reach Tulum if you have a rental car, just be cautious after Playa del Carmen as the road turns from 4-lane to 2-lane. We recommend you to be extra careful as you will pass by people, bicycles, animals and many more surprises. It is well advised to use a bus or a tour with transportation included.

Tulum was founded around 1200 as a commercial trading port, and reached its height of importance in the 1400s. Tulum means fence or wall, and is the name given to the site in recent times because of the wall surrounding it. It is believed that its orginal name was Zama, a word related to Zamal (morning). Tulum was a major harbor for the Mayan. A lot of their trading went through Tulum. Lots of artifacts found in the site showed contacts with Guatemala, and all Central America. The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula and brought European diseases, unknown to the locals which were decimated by the outbreak. Tulum, like so many cities before it, was abandoned to the elements.

When visiting Tulum, there are 5 things you cannot forget to bring with you. A hat or cap, suntan lotion, bathing suit, comfortable shoes and a bottle of water. The beach is great, the place is absolutely gorgeous. The Caribbean sea is perfect to refresh yourself after the tour.