Tulum, the Mayan city of sunrise

The most emblematic archeological site of the Mexican Caribbean was once a thriving city, a shrine for religion and the gateway for the rising sun.

By Alejandro Ruelas

Nov 13, 2019
Photo by Sylvie Charron on Unsplash

It was founded in the 500s, almost a thousand years before the Spanish conquistadors came to America. It was a place for the cult to the gods and a center for maritime commerce. It was a fortress with a defensive perimeter wall, which is why the explorers of the 19th Century called it Tulum, the Mayan word for wall.

But before that, back when it was a thriving port and ceremonial center, it was called Zamá: the sunrise. Its founders gave the sea-facing city a fitting name. The Castle, Tulum’s main edifice, overlooks the turquoise water of the Caribbean from atop a cliff that rises over the ocean. The city behind it was the first of the Mayan settlements to receive the morning sun.

Tulum is famous for its spectacular location. No other archeological sites are privileged to be in such a beautiful coastal environment. Also, the depictions of mythical being painted on its walls and the monumental masks that adorn the entrance to The Castle give account of a culture with advanced cultural production.

The city was also noteworthy because it resisted. Decades after the rest of the region had fallen to Spanish dominion, Zamá remained defiant behind its walls. Nonetheless, a millennium after its foundation, it succumbed to warfare and disease.

Tulum remains an important cultural site. Today, people from all over the world come to marvel at its history. Some arrive early to experience the peace of the rising sun, the same the Mayans cherished so much they decided to give its name to their home.

Mystikal Wanders, AZULIK’s private tour service, can take you to receive the sunrise in this magical city. Ask for the Tulum Yoga Sunrise and get start a wonderful day getting your mind and body in tune in a setting full of ancient history.

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