Friday, December 11, 2015

Tulum Mayan Ruins

On our first visit to a Secrets ten years ago we took a tour to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. We were there the day of the equinox and it was a very interesting day but we were gone for 12 hours and missed an entire day at the resort.  So now we don't usually take tours when we are at a Secrets because we prefer just enjoying all the amenities of the resort.  This time we made an exception because the Mayan ruins at Tulum were only a few miles away.  We did a half day tour and were back at the pool by 1:00 so we had the best of both worlds. 
Tulum is the only Mayan site that is surrounded by a wall.  The entrances are all low and narrow thus making it harder for invaders to get into the town, 
Only the priests and rulers lived inside the wall in the stone buildings.  The commoners lived outside the walls in wooden thatched roofed huts.
This Temple of the Winds on the top of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea was a watchtower and a guide for trading vessels.  Tulum was an important hub of trade with access to both land and sea routes.
Tulum was known as Zama or Dawn to the Mayans.  As with all Mayan sites, the buildings were built to align with the sun and other celestial bodies.  These three buildings align from east to west with the rising sun.
The Oratory, located between the hilltop Castillo and the Great Palace, has many carved sculptures that are still clearly visible. 
The Mayans believed that all things were in balance, night and day, sky and sea.  On this corner of the Oratory is a frowning face while the one on the opposite corner is one that is smiling.
On the left is a woman squatting to have a baby that can be seen in the middle.  You can click on the picture to enlarge it. 
This lemur must be used to people as it was not bothered by the throngs of tourists on the stairs.
A couple of those tourists.
The Temple of the Winds high above the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea. 
The Castillo is the largest building high on the cliff above the sea.  It was constructed on top of an earlier building another common Mayan practice.
The iguanas were everywhere.sunning themselves.
The Castillo and Temple of the Winds and the beach below.  Many people took advantage of the small, beautiful beach at the bottom of the cliff to take a dip in the Caribbean.
The courtyard behind the Castillo.  While the site may have been used as early as 550AD these remains are from a period between 1200 and 1450 just before the arrival of the Europeans.
With its wall, Tulum lasted longer than many other Mayan towns in the face of the conquerors.
The painting shows what the Castillo originally looked like with the walls covered with adobe and painted brilliant colors.  There are a couple of places where you can still see the colors, but they are in sheltered areas and getting a good picture was not possible.
This is the a Mayan rain dance where they hang and swing around the pole.  We did not see the whole thing as we were in the van on the way back to the resort.

While there are signs in both English and Spanish at the site we highly recommend taking the Tulum tour rather than doing it on your own.  It was a great tour with a very informative guide, Mary, who was from Holland and came here to complete her thesis in anthropology.  She loved the area so much that upon completing her degree in Holland, she returned to become a guide at this beautiful place.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow, what a great post! Hope to see it first hand someday.