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 and even weather forecasting were 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 over three hundred years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
Though none of its buildings are particularly large, they are among the most beautiful Mayan structures, with their dramatic rise against the 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 for purposes ranging from religious rituals, a practice continued well into the 20th century, to serving as an ancient from of a lighthouse for the immense seagoing canoes. The people of Tulum used these canoes in their trading, which was a key source of wealth for the city.
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 stands proud as one of the more popular Maya sites for visitors. Its breathtaking backdrop and finely wrought architecture gives it a beauty unlike any other ancient Maya city. It has always been truly unique.