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Caterina Rancho

Exploring The Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Tulum is a boho-chic beach town located on the Yucatan peninsula 130 km south of Cancún–about a 2-hour drive. While in recent years Tulum has become a celebrated travel destination revered for it’s trendy shopping, elite food scene, and exquisite oceanfront-vistas, one local attraction has been pulling in visitors since the state of Quintana Roo was first identified as a popular travel destination in 1970’s: the Mayan Ruins of Tulum.

The Mayan Archaeological site at Tulum National Park was built on a 12-meter cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea in the 13th-century. As one of the earliest major ports in Mexico, the ancient Tulum ruins have since become a symbol of resistance and independence, as it was they represent the only major city that the Spaniards never conquered when they invaded Mexico.

Today, the ruins can be visited in isolation or with a guide; El Castillo, the iconic clifftop watchtower, is one of the most photographed destinations in all of Mexico, which can be seen in the banner image above. Also of interest is El Templo de las Pinturas, which once housed religious ceremonies and now boasts a partially-restored mural of the building’s original red paint.

Fan palms abound in the native Mexican jungle that surrounds the ruins, and there are iguanas crawling over every sun-drenched rock overlooking the sea. The oceanfront 39-feet below the perch of El Castillo is home to what travel writers call “The World’s Most Perfect Beach”– a small enclave of turquoise water and white sand beaches. Twisted palm trees and magenta-colored bougainvillea drape over the stone walls of the cliff, beckoning visitors down to the warm waters below. (There is a friendly staircase down to the sea, for those who don’t prefer rock climbing.)

“Fan palms abound in the native Mexican jungle that surrounds the ruins, and there are iguanas crawling over every sun-drenched rock overlooking the sea.”

Today, visitors from all over the world make the pilgrimage to El Castillo– and the Mayan Ruins in general– in hopes of photographing the ancient site and reflecting on its transience and implications for infinity at the same time. The ruins themselves pre-date modern civilization as we know it, and they will probably be around for long after it comes to an end. This is a concept that boggles the mind. Eternity is a hard concept to grapple with, but what has became clear with the passage of time is the nature is slowly working to reclaim its precious heritage– the site is overgrown with beautiful tropical plants that can only be found in this very special part of the world.

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For more information or to visit the Ancient Mayan Ruins of Tulum, check out Fodor’s Travel Guide

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