Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

Riviera Maya Sights

Tulum Ruins

  • Carretera 307, Km 133 Map It
  • Tulum
  • Archaeological Site/Ruins
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 02/19/2015

Fodor's Review

Tulum is one of the few Mayan cities known to have been inhabited when the conquistadors arrived in 1518. In the 16th century it was a trade center, a safe harbor for goods from rival Mayan factions who considered the city neutral territory. Tulum reached its height when its merchants, made wealthy through trading, for the first time outranked Maya priests in authority and power. But when the Spaniards arrived, they forbade the Maya traders to sail the seas, and commerce among the Maya died.

Tulum has long held special significance for the Maya as a symbol of resistance and independence. A key city in the League of Mayapán (AD 987–1194), it was never conquered by the Spaniards, although it was abandoned by the Maya about 75 years after the conquest of the rest of Mexico. For 300 years thereafter it symbolized the defiance of an otherwise subjugated people, and it was one of the last outposts of the Maya during their insurrection against Mexican rule in the Caste Wars, which

began in 1847. Uprisings continued intermittently until 1935, when the Maya ceded Tulum to the Mexican government.

At the entrance to the ruins you can hire a guide for M$474, but keep in mind that some of their information is more entertainment than historical accuracy. (Disregard that stuff about virgin sacrifices.) Although you can see the ruins thoroughly in 2 hours, you might want to allow extra time for a swim or a stroll on the beach.

The first significant structure is the two-story Templo de los Frescos, to the left of the entryway. The temple's vault roof and corbel arch are examples of classic Mayan architecture. Faint traces of blue-green frescoes outlined in black on the inner and outer walls depict the three worlds of the Maya and their major deities, and are decorated with stellar and serpentine patterns, rosettes, and ears of maize and other offerings to the gods. One scene portrays the rain god seated on a four-legged animal—probably a reference to the Spaniards on their horses. Unfortunately, the frescos are difficult to see from the path to which visitors are restricted.

The largest and most-photographed structure, the Castillo (Castle), looms at the edge of a 40-foot limestone cliff just past the Temple of the Frescoes. Atop it, at the end of a broad stairway, is a temple with stucco ornamentation on the outside and traces of fine frescoes inside the two chambers. (The stairway has been roped off, so the top temple is inaccessible.) The front wall of the Castillo has faint carvings of the Descending God and columns depicting the plumed serpent god, Kukulcán, who was introduced to the Maya by the Toltecs. To the left of the Castillo, facing the sea, is the Templo del Díos Descendente —so called for the carving over the doorway of a winged god plummeting to earth.

A few small altars sit atop a hill at the north side of the cove, with a good view of the Castillo and the sea. To avoid the longest lines, be sure to arrive before 11 am. Outside the entrance are dozens of vendors selling Mexican crafts, so bring some extra cash for souvenirs.

Read More

Sight Information

Address:

Carretera 307, Km 133, Tulum, Quintana Roo, 77750, Mexico

Map It

Phone:

983-837–2411

Sight Details:

  • M$59 entrance, M$54 parking, M$67 video fee, M$27 shuttle from parking to ruins
  • Daily 8–4:30

Updated 02/19/2015

Advertisement

Map View

Map of



What's Nearby

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Sights

See all sights in Riviera Maya

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By avi2014

  • Experience

  • Ease

  • Value

  • Don't Miss

Jan 1, 2014

The ruins were disappointing

A second rate site, no pyramid, remarkable structure or interesting Maya artifact. The ruins were disappointing compared to those I saw elsewhere in Mexico. You can't see the ruins which have been closed to tourists. If you enjoy cheated by the admission ticket booth clerk who doesn't return change go here. The place is overcrowded and the staff unpleasent

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?

Experience

Ease

Value

Don't Miss

Advertisement

X

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE e-mail communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

How we use your email

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.