picture of Tulum and Caribbean Sea, Tulum, Mexico - photograph 006_mextul12 - La Ruta Maya, Mayan Route travel documentary pictures

Photo of Tulum and Caribbean Sea, Tulum, Mexico

Photo of Tulum and the Caribbean Sea, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Tulum is a Late Post-Classic Mayan city. The coastal city of Tulum was inhabited late after the conquest. Tulum is perched on top of limestone cliffs overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

El Castillo is a temple-topped pyramid that also served as a watchtower and a lighthouse. Like many important structures in the Mayan world, the current building is the result of different stages of additional construction. It began as a palace-like base, the staircase added at a later date and eventually it was crowned by the temple on top.

From: Guide of Tulum. History, Art and Monuments

Tulum means fence, trench or wall, and is the name given to the site in recent times because of the wall surrounding it, although its ancient name was possibly Zama, a corruption of Zamal (morning), associated with the dawn. This is an ideal name for the site, as sunrise in Tulumis a superb sight. The first mention of this city was made by Juan Diaz, who was on Juan de Grijalva's expedition that reached the coast of the Yucatan peninsula in 1518. He wrote, "We followed the coast day and night; on the following day... we sighted a city or town so large that Seville would not have appeared bigger or better... a very tall tower was to be seen there..." which no doubt refers to Tulum and the building known as the Castle, standing on the edge of the cliff.

In Juan de Reigosa's Las Relaciones de Yucatan, written in 1579, Zama is mentioned as a walled site with stone buildings which included a very large one that looked like a fortress. Pedro Sanchez de Aguilar, author of Informe Contra Idolorum Cultores del Obispado de Yucatan, (Madrid, 1639) mentions the coast of Zama when telling the story of ten shipwrecked Spaniards who were taken prisoner by the chieftain Kenich. Among them was Geronimo de Aguilar, who later became Hernan Cortes' interpreter during the Conquest of Mexico.

Location of picture - Tulum Quintana Roo Mexico

picture id: 006_mextul12


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