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					Title:
Exploring The Ruins Of Tulum

Word Count:
705

Summary:
While Cancun is home to beautiful hotels, resorts and numerous
attractions, the area surrounding the city is known for its wealth of
Mayan ruins. About 2 hours south of the city rests one of the most
beautiful ancient sites in Mexico, the ruins of Tulum. This beautiful
site is one of the finest attractions for a Cancun vacation. Though
smaller than the well-known Chichen Itza, Tulum’s majestic setting sets
it apart. Perched above the Caribbean Sea on a rocky cliff, the ruins ...


Keywords:
Cancun vacation, Tulum, Ruins of Tulum, Mayan ruins, Mayan temple,
Castillo, travel tips


Article Body:
While Cancun is home to beautiful hotels, resorts and numerous
attractions, the area surrounding the city is known for its wealth of
Mayan ruins. About 2 hours south of the city rests one of the most
beautiful ancient sites in Mexico, the ruins of Tulum. This beautiful
site is one of the finest attractions for a Cancun vacation. Though
smaller than the well-known Chichen Itza, Tulum’s majestic setting sets
it apart. Perched above the Caribbean Sea on a rocky cliff, the ruins are
simultaneously captivating and foreboding.

Founded in the early 1200s, the city of Tulum reached its zenith in the
1400s as a port city in a decentralized Mayan kingdom. After the Spanish
came upon the settlement in 1518, the conquistadores spoke of Tulum in
the same breath as Seville. Though Tulum certainly wasn’t as large as
Seville, the Spaniards perceptions speak volumes about the splendor of
the site. The Spanish would later occupy the city for 70 years until the
settlement was abandoned.

As the city is protected by walls on three sides, the sea on the fourth,
the approach to the site is an experience in itself. You’ll enter the
site through a breach in one of these 16-foot walls. As you traverse the
walkway across the top, you will notice that the wall once separated
portions of the city. Beyond any defensive purpose, these walls divided
the ceremonial and governmental sections of the city from the residential
areas.

Directly in front of you, Tulum’s Castillo (Castle) towers above the
other structures. Besides the remarkable view it offers, the Castillo
probably served as both the community’s primary place of worship and a
type of lookout or primitive lighthouse. At the entrance of the Castillo,
a plaza dividing the structure breaks off into a pair of distinctive
temples.
Veering to the left of this plaza, you will enter the Templo del Dios
Descendente (Temple of the Descending God). The diving or descending god
depicted as an upside-down figure above the entrance to the temple
appears throughout the ruins of Tulum. Though the figure’s precise
significance is unknown, it may be representative of the setting sun,
rain or lightning. It is also believed that the character served as a god
of bees, a theory stemming from the fact that honey was one of the Mayan
kingdom’s most important exports.

On the opposite side of the Castillo plaza is the Templo de Las Series
Iniciales (Temple of the Initial Series). The name of the temple derives
from the discovery of a stela, or stone marker, bearing a date well
before the foundation of the city, presumably brought to the city from
another part of the Mayan kingdom.

When you’ve finished exploring the Castillo, two other temples await your
visit. The Temple of the Frescoes features restored murals depicting
Mayan Gods and symbols of nature's fertility such as rain, corn and fish.
North of the Castillo, The Temple of the Winds served as a storm warning
system. To this day, approaching storms send whistling sounds through the
center of the structure.

To make your visit to Tulum as enjoyable as possible, here are some
additional travel tips. The ruins are open from 8am to 5pm daily, but
most tours don’t arrive until about 10am. Hence, if you are able, try to
visit Tulum first thing in the morning before it get too hot and crowded.

When you arrive at the site, here are a few things to keep in mind to
avoid any headaches. Before you get to the ruins you must pass through
the visitor's center, a collection of shops and restaurants. From the
visitor’s center, you can choose to take a 15 minute walk down the road
or board the site’s shuttle for $2. If you have a video camera in tow,
expect to pay a $4 fee. It also costs $4 to enter the site, but the fee
is waived on Sunday.

Lastly, be wary of the guides roaming the grounds. Many may have official
badges, but don’t be surprised if you’re subjected to strange lines about
the Mayan kingdom’s connection to aliens. If you enjoy a good story,
however, it might be worth the plunge.

				
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posted:3/21/2010
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