Tulum "The City of Dawn" The original name of Tulum is believed to be ZAMA or "dawn".
It is believed that the original name of the city was Zama or "dawn" hence "The City of Dawn". Tulum/Zama is one of the most important archeological zones on the Caribbean coast. Located on the sea, the temples and alters did not last long; comparatively, those of Chichen-Itza and Uxmal are much better preserved. The Castle is situated on a natural platform on the coast, only a few meters away from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The Maya located Tulum strategically facing the sea with forty foot high cliffs along the rocky shoreline fortifying and defending it.
In 1518 Jan de Grijalva sailed up the coast of the Yucatan with four ships. His ship's chaplin wrote, "Several neighboring cities with numerous buildings in them, some of which were very tall....while many people waved to us with flags as though inviting the boats to come nearer." The cities they sailed passed were Tulum, Soliman, Tankah and Xel-ha.
To the North, West and South Tulum is surrounded by walls. Two small watchtowers are set in two corners of the city's wall. Watchmen would warn from these towers of impending attacks.
Main temples and political buildings along with a dozen other structures are located within the walls including the priest's quarters. The ceremonial center itself extends along the coast for nearly 1300 feet and is over 500 feet wide. The wall is about one half a mile long and between ten and sixteen feet high. It is nearly twenty feet thick with five gates so narrow they permit passage of only one person at a time. War was of definite concern to the Maya.
The Castle is divided into two main bodies, one lower construction and a later built on top of it. Although part of the stone carvings have disappeared, at the upper corners of the western facade of the alter there are two plumed-serpent masks. These snakes are related to the movement of the sun and they represent the solstices. The Ancient Mayas considered the rattlesnake as a solar symbol.
Tulum's Temple of the Wind is located on the northwest part of the complex. It has a splendid view of the Caribbean and coral reef. This small temple has only one room, inside which there is a tiny alter. The temple was erected on a circular platform with a series of small steps leading to it.
The largest and best preserved of Tulum's temples is the Temple of the Frescoes. It's paintings are Toltec style; one of the most important finds on the peninsula. Its center column is apparently illumined by the rising sun during the equinox, and it is oriented to the west for its use as an observatory. Murals of black, brown, blue and green vegetable colors are painted on the interior. On the exterior fertility symbols and beautiful masks are found with vestiges of the original paint. A double frieze is divided into four sections by three niches. The central niche contains the sculpture of a descending god. Hands painted in red can be seen to the left of the door of the upper temple. A smooth stela is at the front of the building.
Other buildings of interest are the Temple of the Descending God, the Temple of the Initial Series, the Temple of the Sea, the House of Cenote, the House of Chultun, the House of Columns, the Tombs, the Northeast House, plus several platforms and Oratories.
Ah Muzen Cab, Mayan god of the bees, was the patron god of Tulum/Zama. This indicates that Tulum was most likely a large producer of honey, although the Maya were predominately farmers and also fishermen.
As Tulum/Zama is only a few minutes from your vacation home in Soliman Bay it will be an ancient site very easy to visit and enjoy.
Swimming is permitted at the beach just beneath Tulum, so take your swimming gear, suits and towels.
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