History of Tulum
Tulum is a fortified Mayan city that was occupied from the year 1200 to 1450 and remained inhabited until the late 16th Century due to pirate attacks and failing conquest attempts from the Spaniards. The Mayans were excellent astronomers, fishermen and navigators that traded products with other Caribbean islands and extended territories. The Mayans inhabited the lower Mexico regions and what is now known as Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.
In 1502, the crew that sailed on the last expedition of Christopher Columbus became the first Spaniards to make contact with the inhabitants of Quintana Roo. Another Spanish ship came to this area nine years later and became stranded. The Mayans captured and killed the survivors, except for two of them: Gonzalo Guerrero and Jerónimo de Aguilar. They were both accepted and integrated into the Mayan society where Gonzalo Guerrero married Zazil- Ha “Princess of water” and this is how he acquired the title of “father” of the first Mexican “mestizos”.
Tulum means “walled city” and was also known as Zama which means “sunrise or morning”. Its main archeological site is the only one built on a cliff facing the Caribbean Sea with breathtaking views.
It didn’t take long for backpacker travelers to hear about this astonishing jewel in the Mexican Caribbean, and even though there were very few rustic hotels, European adventurers became the main market for this new touristic destination around the 1980’s.
The few hotels built on the beach started with manmade “palapas” and “cabañas”, with no electricity, running water and with hammocks for beds. Today, these now upgraded and sometimes luxurious hotels still have to hire water trucks to deliver the precious liquid and have solar, wind or diesel power generators that provide electricity for their guests.
Word spread and what used to be a peaceful fishermen’s village is now an iconic hot spot for bohemian-chic travelers that love Mexico and its culture.
Tulum is now a cosmopolitan city where Europeans, Americans, South Americans, Mexicans and the Mayan community have learned to cohabitate and grow.
Tulum is divided in three areas:
- Tulum’s hotel zone by the beach, which is full of laid back glamour with many boutique hotels with defined concepts that intend to merge with nature under an eco-friendly motto. There are also a few beach clubs and private homes. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve has also a few but beautiful houses by the beach.
- El pueblo or down town, has grown fast to meet the demands of the growing population. The main street is full of restaurants, bars and shops. You will also find local grocery stores, drugstores, gyms, banks, ATM’s, supermarkets, clinics, schools and a bus terminal, offering services to those who live in this area.
- Tulum’s archaeological site remains the center of attraction, and it is an obliged stop to all who visit.