) is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city
serving as a major port for Cobá.
are located on 12-meter (39 ft) cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula
on the Caribbean Sea
in the state of Quintana Roo
The Maya site may have been formerly also known by the name Zama
, meaning city of Dawn. Tulúm
is also the Yucatec Mayan word for fence
), and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to serve as a defense against invasion. From the numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god.
Tulum was protected on one side by steep sea cliffs and on the landward side by a wall that averaged about three to 5 meters (16 ft) in height. The wall also was about 8 m (26 ft) thick and 400 m (1,300 ft) long on the side parallel to the sea. The part of the wall that ran the width of the site was slightly shorter and only about 170 meters (560 ft) on both sides. This massive wall would have taken an enormous amount of energy and time, which shows how important defense was to the Maya when they constructed the site here.
On the southwest and northwest corners there are small structures that have been identified as watch towers, showing again how well defended the city would have been. There are five narrow gateways in the wall with two each on the north and south sides and one on the west. Near the northern side of the wall a small cenote
would have provided the city with fresh water. It is this impressive wall that makes Tulum one the most well-known fortified sites of the Maya.
© Sam Markman Photography