Staring out for eternity over the turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean, the temples of the walled city of Tulum present a unique aspect of the Maya legacy.

Astronomy and celestial navigation, maritime trade, even weather forecasting was among the Maya achievements at this small but powerful city state.

Tulum rose to prominence around 1200 AD, in what is referred to as the Post-Classic Period in Maya history, a little more than three hundred years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Though none of its buildings is particularly large, they are among the most beautiful of Maya structures, with their dramatic rise against the craggy Yucatan coastline.

The dominant pyramid is the Castillo, which is also noted for the extensive, colorful and detailed murals found inside the building.

Other buildings were used fir purposes ranging from religious rites (a practice continued well into the 20th century) to serving as an ancient from of lighthouse for the immense seagoing canoes the people of Tulum used in their trading, which was a key source of wealth for the city.

Indeed, the beach which served as this city’s “port” is clearly evident as a break between the short cliffs that typify the coast at this point.

Tulum was inhabited until the conquistadors arrived. Like ports and trading centers throughout history, Tulum was one of the first places to encounter the invaders from across the sea –and one of the first to taste the bitter fruit of conquest.

Today, Tulum again stands proud, as one of the more popular Maya sites for visitors. Its breathtaking backdrop and finely-wrought architecture give it a beauty unlike any other ancient Maya city; as it always was, Tulum is truly unique.