Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vacation Part III Mayan Ruins, Tulum Mexico

The last day in Mexico we visited the Mayan Ruins in Tulum. The Tulum ruins are the third most visited archaelogical site in Mexico behind the city of Teotihuacan (in Mexico City) and the ruins of Chichen Itza (recently voted one of the new 7 wonders of the world). Rather than describe all the photos from memory, I just decided to cheat...just cut and paste from a travel website. The ruins were a striking contrast to the beautiful Caribbean that lies below.

Tulum was once called Zama, meaning ¨place of the dawning sun¨. How it got this name is obvious as this ancient Mayan city is situated on a cliff which faces east toward the beautiful turquoise waters of the life-giving Caribbean. This is surely one of the most scenically beautiful of all the Mayan archaeological sites.

Tulum was a city of main importance between 1,000-1,600. This was a place for the elite of the Maya world. At first glimpse one might mistake Tulum for an ancient country club, with its beautiful grounds and sweeping views of the sea. If one explores deeper, however, this illusion is disturbed by the presence of a large twenty foot wall that surrounds the site which bespeaks of the need for defense against invaders from both land and the sea.

Tulum is one of the first cities that the Spanish Conquistadors encountered in Mexico. It was the only Mayan city still thriving that they found. Intimidated by its size and grandeur they didn´t stay to visit. A wise decision as the residents of Tulum are known for a tradition of rebellion that lasted for several centuries, never falling to Spanish rule. They eventually abandoned the city but not until almost a century after the Spanish conquest. During the War of the Castes in the 19th century, it became a major center of resistance to Mexican rule. Tulum didn´t sign a treaty with the Mexican government until 1935.

The Mayan ruins at Tulum have a number of interesting structures from the ancient Mayan world. Graceful columns and elegant carvings give one an appreciation for the architectural achievements of the Maya. Some of its main archaeological features are the Temple of the Frescoes, the Castillo pyramid and the Temple of the Diving God. Unique corner masks grace the outside of the Temple of the Frescoes. Inside are fantastic 13th century murals depicting ancient ceremonies. One of the few surviving images of the Mayan goddess of fertility and medicine can be found here. Red paint still clings to the stucco on the outside of the temple. It is believed that at one time all the buildings in Tulum were painted red.

The Castillo is known more for its scenic location than its size. Although its front facade has all the features of other Mayan temples, its back side seems more like a fortress. Small windows face out toward the sea, providing an excellent lookout post from which to watch for sea faring invaders. Visitors feel compelled to photograph this impressive structure standing regally against a backdrop of the beautiful Caribbean.

Iguanas "sunning" were plentiful....I think I snapped about as many pictures of them as I
did of the ruins....I knew Michael would LOVE to see them.

This iguana was devouring some kind of pods that had fallen from a tree overhead....yuck!

A view of the Caribean below, taken from the ruins above.
Many people visit the ruins and enjoy the white sandy beaches as well.


Les said...

I went to the Mayan Ruins when I was 14. I climbed one pyramid, and didn't think I'd live to tell about it! I want to go back now that I'm older and know I would appreciate it more. Your pics are beautiful.

Tamra said...

Enjoyed these pics. The water color is gorgeous!

~Heather~ said...

Neat! Phillip and I studied some about this in our Spanish culture class that we took in Costa Rica. Very interesting! (Sad religion, sacrificing and all, but interesting.)

Great pics, beautiful water, nice couple! =)

Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog.
Love, Heather =)

Martha C said...

I love the color of the water!

~Heather~ said...

Thanks for your comment on my Kimberly's hair post. I find that, like I said, if my neck is out, I sometimes get a headache. Also, like you said, if I do certain hair dos, it can hurt my neck, or give me a headache, so I just I just change to the "dos" that "don't". =D

Hope all is well your way,
Love, Heather =)