Dzibilchaltun is in the north of Yucatán, about 22km from the sea.
The site may have been chosen to be as close as possible to the
coastal salt-producing region. The terrain between Dzibilchaltun and
the sea is bare rock & mangrove swamps, not really suitable for
habitation. Dzibilchaltun’s soil is fertile & habitable enough.
Also, Cenote Xlakah may have been a factor in the choice of site, as
it provides clean drinking water. It was also used as the centre of
a religious cult.
The site was continously occupied for 1000’s of years – apparently
as far back as 1000 BC. However, its size fluctuated during that
time, between medium-sized city & small town.
The most famous structure is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, connected
to the rest of the site by a sacbe. It is called that because
7 small effigies were found when the temple was discovered.
Temple of the Seven Dolls.
There is also a ruined church, built by the Spanish in the 1500′s.
Tulum is on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It was built on 12m-high cliffs.
During the Postclassic Period [950-1200], Tulum was a major port for
the city of Cobá, further inland. It had walls (unlike most Mayan
cities) – 6m thick in some places, and 4.5-6.0m tall. It has five
narrow openings, which can fit one person at a time. Tulum was on
trade routes both on land and sea, especially for obsidian.
Tulum was ruled over by Mayapan. It seems to have been an important
site for the worship of the Diving/Descending god. Their population
The city survived for about 70 years after the Spanish arrived, which
was unusual. By the end of the 1500’s, it had been abandoned
The Temple of the Frescoes was an observatory for tracking the sun’s
movements. It has a lower gallery, and a smaller 2nd-storey gallery.
Its façade has depictions of the Mayan diving-god.
Temple of the Frescoes.
The Temple of the Diving God is smaller, and in the central part of
the site. It is called that because the diving-god is depicted in
stucco on the western wall.
Temple of the Diving God.
El Castillo is a 7.5m-tall pyramid. It was built in stages, on an
already-existing building. There is a small shrine, which would have
been used as a beacon for incoming trade canoes. It lines up exactly
with a break in the barrier reef, through which the canoes would
enter a cove and landing beach.