Tulum was the seat of one of the most important Mayan manors in the region. Together with others, such as Uxmal, Chichén Itzá and Izamal, they formed the "Mayapán League" in the post-classical period of the Mayan culture. Its construction and location is for archaeologists a city made for defense, and is one of the best preserved sites in the Mayan world, in addition to one of the three most visited in the country, after Teotihuacán and Chichén Itzá.

It is also one of the Mesoamerican cities that Europeans first registered. In 1518, Juan Díaz, chronicler on board one of the early expeditions, wrote: "It is as big as Seville." The day the Spaniards saw it for the first time, Tulum was still inhabited.

Inside the walls you can see the most representative buildings of the so-called "eastern coast" style, as it is known the Mayan architecture built on the north coast of Quintana Roo between 1200 and 1520 e.c.

But, paying attention, the walls of Tulum tell us that since the year 564 some inhabitants had already settled in the area.

This city was a kind of border for visitors and merchants who arrived by sea as well as by land. The city has 4 accesses and 2 towers from which a permanent surveillance was maintained.

At the center of the site stands the main construction, El Castillo, which, with its back to the sea, served as a beacon for navigators and at the same time was the main ceremonial and political point of Tulum. Its construction was done in several stages and its summit is topped with a temple that at the entrance has two columns in the shape of a snake that hold the main deity of the city, El Descendant God.

Further to the north is a temple that, due to the roundness of its base, it is deduced was dedicated to the God of the Wind, which in the Mayan culture was related to Kukulcán.

Connect to these two buildings the main road; a wide street on which are located other constructions of diverse nature. The main one is the Temple of the Frescoes, a true archaeological treasure because inside it still preserves the remains of murals that in their narration bring us closer to the everyday life of the ancient inhabitants. Supernatural figures of the underworld, deities, flowers, fruits and ears entwined by snakes that tell us about crops and agriculture.

This construction seems to be guarded by the warrior figures that are carved in its two front corners.

Other examples of the outstanding architecture of Tulum functioned as residences or palaces. This is the case of the House of the Columns or the House of the Cenote, located on the roof of a cenote and that reminds us of the importance that the Mayans gave to the aquatic cult and to the divinities that inhabited the depths.

They also highlight the House of Halach Uinik or the Great Lord, and the so-called Temple of the Initial Series, inside which was found the famous stela 1 with an inscription that marks the year 564, date that does not coincide with the period of splendor of Tulum, reached between the years 1200 and 1450.

As if that were not enough, very close to the archaeological zone there are many cenotes and places to dive, because below there are rivers that merge with the sea and in Tulum the four longest cave systems of all the world are born. When the roof of these rivers breaks, cenotes are opened, like the sacred cenotes that have been there delighting their inhabitants for many, many generations.

¿Qué Visitar?

What to Visit?

  • The Castle Considered one of the main buildings of this archaeological site, it has a temple on the top with three doors that are ornamented with different deities.
  • Temple of the Descending God Above the main door you can see the sculpture of a winged man that falls to the ground, representing thus the sunset.
  • Temple of the Frescoes
  • Beach Although there are is not major tourist facilities, it is perfect to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean Sea while you refresh yourself in its turquoise waters.
¿Qué hacer?

What to do?

  • Carnival As in the rest of the Catholic world, it takes place during the week before Lent, when you can enjoy float parades, traditional music and dances, masked people around, and the crowning ceremony of a queen and a king just for this festivity.
  • Sea Turtle Festival It takes place in October each year to celebrate the arrival of this impressive animal with kite and sand castles contests, while ecological and clean-beaches workshops are organized. Communities from all the Maya Riviera participate in this peculiar festival.
  • You can practice here sea sport such as diving and snorkeling.
Comida Típica

Typical Food

  • Cochinita Pibil Pork meat seasoned with achiote (a spicy local sauce) and slowly roasted in a ground oven.
  • Salbutes Fried corn tortilla served with lettuce, tomato, onion and beef.
  • Tikin-Xic Fish Seasoned with achiote sauce it is roasted in a grill or it can be also baked in an underground stove.
  • Seafood Shrimps, lobsters, octopus, snails, oysters… any type at any season, prepared in different ways, always delicious and fresh!
  • Balché Fermented sap obtained from the bark of the equally named tree.
¿Qué Saber?

What to Know?

  • Although it was not a major Maya city, Tulum played an important sea and land commercial role between the 13th and the 16th centuries.
  • Tulum also functioned as an astronomic observatory and defensive fort.
  • When the Conquistadors arrived in the sixteenth century, Tulum was inhabited; however, soon after it was abandoned because of the war, the slavery, and the illnesses. It took more than three centuries to be discovered again.
  • In 2008, this municipality was created officially by the local Congress.

Popular Craft

  • Ornamental items and handicrafts made of coconut shells, shells and other sea objects
  • Carved wood
  • Palm knitted items and handicrafts

All you must know about Tulum here, in our audio guide


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