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Valladolid Travel Blog

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After flying from Caye Caulker to the tiny airstrip at Corozal, we drive to Tulum.Tulum's greatest attraction is its location. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means "Wall", and the city was christened thus because it is a walled city; one of the very few the ancients ever built. Research suggests it was formerly called Zama or "to dawn" in its day, which is appropriate given the location. It seems "Tulum" is the name given the site following a visit by the explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1841, just before the beginning of the Caste War in 1847, long after the city was abandon and fell to ruins.

They ordered trees cleared and Catherwood made illustrations of temples, later to be published in their famous book "Incidents of Travel in Yucatan". Juan José Gálvez is actually credited with Tulum's rediscovery in 1840. This afternoon we explore this dramatically situated site perched atop a cliff overlooking the turquoise water and golden sands below. The ruins of Tulum date back to the late period of the Mayan civilisation when there was developing enmity between Mayan provinces, so the city is guarded by thick ramparts and a watch tower.

The earliest date lifted from the site is A.D. 564 ,the inscription on a stele. This places Tulum within the Classic period, though we know that its heyday was much later (1200 - 1521 A.D.) during the Late Post-classic period.

Tulum was a major link in the Maya's extensive trade network. Both maritime and land routes converged here. Artifacts found in or near the site testify to contacts that ranged from Central Mexico to Central America and every place in between: copper rattles and rings from the Mexican highlands; flint and ceramics from all over the Yucatán jade and obsidian from Guatemala and more. The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men as they sailed reconnaissance along the Eastern coast of Yucatán in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula unwittingly bringing Old World diseases which decimated the native population. And so Tulum, like so many cities before it, was abandoned to the elements

After visiting the site we will continue onto Valladolid. Valladolid is a bustling Mayan city with a special colonial flavor. This is where you will see the majority of the townspeople still using the typical dress of the Mayas, and the buildings around the Main Plaza painted pastel colors. You will surely get a sense of the laid-back pace of life.

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photo by: Stigen