The Tulum Mayan ruins are what now remain of a once very active port city, the foundations of which have been dated back, due to a deciphered stele inscription, to 564 A.D. The majority of the buildings, still standing and quite well preserved, are dated to the last period of the pre-Hispanic occupation, between the 13th and the early 16th century A.D.
Zama, the original Mayan name of the city (meaning “dawn”), had been built on a steep cliff facing the ocean, and is surrounded on its’ other three sides, by massive defensive walls up to 6 meters high. Tulum Mayan Ruins had been the most important crossroads of sea and land trade routes in the whole area.
Sadly, and according to the most accredited theory, the city was abandoned by the end of the 16th century, due to the new diseases introduced by the Spanish conquerors, which practically destroyed the native population.
Built, as said, on a steep cliff in front of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, the ancient ruins of Tulum are visited every year by more than one million of tourists, which make it the 17th world’s most visited site, as well as the 3rd in Mexico.
The Castillo of Tulum ruins, the largest and tallest construction on the site, is built right on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It used to have mainly religious purposes, although researchers say that it also had a lighthouse functions too, in order to guide the Mayan merchant ships in navigation along the Yucatan coast.
In order to preserve Tulum ruins, it is unfortunately not possible to climb up the stairs, nor to walk in front of it. The Palace, which is beautifully decorated with carvings and images of deities, is the site’s largest building for residential purposes, and is thought to have been inhabited by Zama’s spiritual leaders and dignitaries. Composed of several small chambers, the windows of one of them still have the rings that used to hold the curtains.