Tulum Ruins - What Ancient Mayan Knowledge and Wisdom Lies Hidden Within?
The ancient city of Tulum protects her secrets well. She was, and still remains, surrounded by sea, cliffs and imposing limestone walls. A glimpse into the world within cannot be reached without bowing, as you shuffle your way through the entrance tunnel, in reverence and honour to her wise Mayan creators. Noreen Kompanik, guest author and lover of Mexico draws us into the mystery as she tours these spectacular ancient ruins filled with a vibrant history and wonder...
Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the tourmaline waters of Mexico's Caribbean Sea, the magnificent walled city of Tulum was one of the last to be built by the Mayans. As a lover of Mayan history, it's a place I'd longed to see.
We met up with our guide at the visitor's center for an early tour to see as much of the ancient ruins as we could before crowds arrived at this immensely popular destination.
It was a great plan, enabling us to roam these historic grounds at a leisurely pace taking in the magic of this enchanting destination. Iguanas appeared throughout the ruins, serving as our unofficial greeting party. These tame reptiles tend to bob their heads acknowledging the presence of visitors they're so used to seeing here.
Each Mayan city had a specific purpose, and Tulum was no exception. This bustling seaport on the Yucatan Peninsula, trading heavily in turquoise and jade, was the only Mayan city located on the coast. Though not as large as other ancient Mayan ruins in the region, Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites in Mexico and rumoured to have some of the world's best magical energy. It remains a mystery today how these native Americans could have developed such an advanced civilization.
The main temple, El Castillo, constructed of limestone, was designed and engineered by astronomers to align perfectly with the sun on the summer solstice. It's Tulum's largest and most imposing structure dedicated to Venus (Kukulkán) looming 40-feet high on a rocky bluff with commanding views of the ocean. Sunrise on the solstice shines a beam of light through a series of windows in this impressive temple. What an incredible phenomenon for a place founded over 1,600 years ago without advanced astronomy techniques. One may wonder what it is they knew that we don't.
The Temple of the Frescos is considered one of Tulum's most archeologically significant sites. Multiple paintings adorn the structure's inner walls. These colourful depictions represent such deities as Chaac (the god of rain) and Ixchel (the goddess of the moon and fertility).
Structures fronting the Castillo are the remains of two palatial dwellings: The House of the Halach Uinic was once an elaborate shrine for Mayan rulers. The adjacent Great Palace served as the residential quarters for Tulum's royal court. Though the buildings exhibit much deterioration, the remains suggest its façade was exquisitely ornate.
An expansive walkway extends out around the ruins while a wooden staircase descends to a beach for swimming or sunbathing. Views from the top are absolutely stunning. It comes as no surprise that the ancient Mayans selected this magnificent site to build their coastal city. It was somehow reassuring we were staring in awe at the same sea that humans have seen for thousands of years - the Caribbean Sea renowned for its fifty shades of blue. And both within and along these waters, life goes on.
Playa Ruinas (beach of the ruins) is accessible only by boat or by entry fee to the Tulum ruins. The white silky sand beach lined with swaying palms is an absolute paradise. Once again, Tulum's location speaks to the wisdom of the Mayans.
The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi once said "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."
If you feel the pull to these mysterious ruins and wish to experience them on your next trip to the Mayan Riviera, Mexico, we would suggest that you contact EcoColors Tours, a local operator based in Cancun. Their tours are arranged with the client, the natural environment and the local cultures in mind and each one is unique - no packaged tours! They can arrange to get you to Tulum early to avoid the crowds and fill your whole day or perhaps your whole stay with meaningful exploration and connection with less-visited people and places throughout the Yucatan. If you are looking for ideas and inspiration, browse through the other articles on Mexico in the Re-CreationWORLD Magazine.