The image above was taken from: http://www.xelha.com/tulum-xelha-park.php
About 45min. ride from Playa Del Carmen lies probably the youngest but also one of the most beautiful Maya towns – Tulum. But what really makes this town so special is it’s location. Tulum stands on, almost vertical, cliffs overseeing the mesmerizing turquoise Caribbean Sea. As it directly faces the east it’s obvious why Tulum was once known as the “City of dawn”. The town isn’t so big and you can pass through it in a short amount of time. Even though this is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, almost every building in this archeological site is off limits to tourists so don’t expect to have a cool “Tomb Raider” experience. We don’t quite get why most of the site is restricted due to the fact that, beside rock formations, there isn’t much more left to see.
You can tell that this archeological site was properly “cleaned” over the past few centuries and that it faced the same sad outcome like many other Maya towns that were occupied by the colonial forces. But what you can definitely expect is to get sunburn. Bad. Tulum is quite “naked” regarding it’s vegetation and the only guys that don’t give a damn about getting roasted are the adorable iguanas.
They are all over the place, posing like little models and checking us foreigners out. There is something special about iguanas. It’s like they really look at and into you. We always get the feeling that they have full awareness of our presence and that it almost looks like they analyze you. This never ceases to amaze us.
We already mentioned that beautiful white sand beaches are a standard in the east coast of Quintana Roo and Tulum’s beach certainly is no exception. If, by some miracle, you manage to avoid getting sunburn after exploring the local ruins, a fresh swim in the crystal clear sea beneath this ancient town is the best way to conclude your exploration of Tulum!
The second archeological site and quite possibly one of the most famous ones in all of Mexico is Chichen Itza.
This archeological site was is located in the heart of Yucatan State and is best recognizable by it’s great pyramid “El Castillo”. There are also few more really interesting buildings such as the “Temple of the Warriors” and the “Great Ball Court” as well as some natural creations, such as “Sacred Cenote”.
But we won’t bore you with all the details regarding the dates and types of buildings that you can find everywhere on the internet. We must, however, say that we just couldn’t shake this feeling that this site was so thoroughly desolated that we were lucky to be able to see even these few buildings that were left. For example, the mentioned “Sacred Cenote” is a small natural lake where Mayans preformed many different rituals that also included valuable offerings which they threw in this lake. Some of the colonial explorers developed special tools to extract all this offerings which were mostly gold based. In the end, many of the invaluable artifacts were stolen and the Mexican government even tried to sue some of the colonial “extractors” but with no success…
Chichen Itza is also one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico so the last thing you should expect is to have a mystical moment of profound solitude among the ancient ruins. That being said, the best place to visit is early in the morning before the legions of tourists arrive. Everything else put aside, standing in front of “El Castillo” is really something. The Mayans possessed great knowledge of acoustics and “El Castillo” is a great example of this knowledge. Even though it’s a pyramid that doesn’t closely stand next to some wall or an object, it produces really interesting acoustic sounds. If you ever happen to stand in front of it try clapping your hands and you will see what we mean 🙂
Relatively close to Chichen Itza we found a piece of natural architecture that left us speechless. This natural wonder is called Cenote.
Cenote represent ancient caves, created thousands of years ago, and their main characteristic are big fresh indoor water pools. There are hundreds of cenotes in Mexico and all of them can be classified into three groups: closed, semi-closed and opened cenotes. The “Sacred Cenote” in Chichen Itza was an example of opened cenote but we also happened to visit two cenote that were almost totally closed. The first one was cenote Samula (shown in the image above) and the second was cenote X’quequén (image below).
These ancient caves can, on our opinion, best be described as huge natural cathedrals decorated with stalactites and stalagmites including the main choir made out of small bats. Due to ther monumental and impressive look, it’s perfectly understandable why the Mayans considered cenotes to be sacred places. In this respect, the most famous one is “Sacred Cenote” where many of the ancient artifacts (including some human remains) have been found. Most of cenotes are located a bit further from the main touristic points so they aren’t crowded all the time. This makes them a pure joy to explore and If you ever happen to visit Mexico, be sure to visit at least one cenote!
If you want to check out more articles from Mexico you can do it HERE ! 🙂