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Tulum – The Best Kept Secret

A continuation of our week in the Yucatan Peninsula – SKIP Tulum.

See the previous post on Coba <click here>

When you Travel Like an Architect (TLAA) you are flexible and do what makes the most sense on each day. Per our previous post we should have gone to Chinchen Itza yesterday. For numerous reasons we went diving instead. And, because of Tourist Crowds we vowed to Skip Tulum.

So, our revised plan is less stress, less driving, and a visit to Muyil Archeological Site, about 20 miles south of the town of Tulum.

Better than Tulum

As a reminder: Architects travel to study Architecture. But it is far more than the study of buildings, or the “engineering”. It is the study of Civilization. How people lived, played, worshiped, and worked. It is the study of HOW buildings affect how we FEEL. The “feeling-of-place”, the feeling of Architecture, can only be discovered, in-person, by visiting significant places.

Muyil means the place of the rabbit. The name corresponds to the lagoon located in this region. The site, occupied back to 300 BC, contains ceremonial, administrative, and residential buildings. Around 250AD Muyil was an important port city. The largest pyramid, The Castle, was built in this period. The city was occupied until about 1250AD.

Plaza de la entrada

This complex is composed of ten pyramids built on stone bases. It contains numerous alters. Low, flat roof residential buildings surround the base of the civic buildings.

Here there is a double body temple with a vaulted ceiling. The interior room has only one entrance. In the entrance there is evidence of colored artwork. This is the style known as West Coast style or Costa Oriental. This is the one of the two restored/excavated temples.

The low residential structure. Peek closely, and you can see an interior room, beyond.

These are two of the un-excavated temples. The others were in the jungle, but visible from the walking path.

Temple 8 Palacio Rosa

Temple 8 is the Rose Palace. This building was the center of Mayan Civic and Religious life. The complex is surrounded by a low wall within which other temples, alters, platforms, and artwork were constructed. This area was built 1250 to 1550 AD.

The side of the temple. The temple is set on a a naturally high, flat, spot in the center of the complex.

A PEEK inside one of the small buildings adjacent to the temple pyramid.

A break in the wall surrounding the complex. The main temple is beyond.

The front of the main temple. There is an alter, protected by the palpa.

El Castillo

El Castillo, the castle, is 17 meters tall, and is the tallest construction in all of North Central Quintanaroo.

Muyil taller than tulum

The building was built in two phases. The first phase was the three bodies, or terraces. The second phase was the temple with two entrances at its peak.

The main entrance faces West. At the top of the stairs is an enclosure with two alters. When discovered, the Archeologists found 264 ornamental objects made of stone and shell.

More detail than tulum

Decoration near the top of the temple where the artifacts were found.

There is a colorful mural that was discovered in Phase 2 of this temple. However, after discovery, the elements started to eat away at the paint, and the decision was made to re-bury it in order to preserve it. There is still a small amount of color left on the exterior.

Imagine the entire building painted in bright colors!!!


Sac means white, Be means path or road.

The start of Sacbe 1, above. The white, wide, patch has become forest. Sacbe 1, below, as we approach the first lagoon. The path here, has become swamp-like.

Chunyaxche Lagoon is connected to El Castillo via SACBE 1. A canal, constructed by the Mayans, connects Chunyaxche Lagoon to Muyil Lagoon. A natural canal connects Muyil Lagoon to the ocean. The two lagoons, and canals, allows the transport of goods from the ocean to 20+ kilometers inland.

This temple complex functioned as a maritime transportation route, distributing products to, and from all the interior villages. This area united the Yucatan with other part of Mezoamerica. While small this was one of the most important Myan Complexes in the Yucatan.

To learn more about the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and how you can float the Myan Canal 《click here

Muyil is the best kept Secret. Architects Travel for the “feeling of space”. ONLY here can you FEEL what it must have been like. We arrived, and were directed to a FREE parking spot – in the shade. $3.00 per person USD entry fee (really a little less if you have pesos). It is unspoiled. NOT touristy. The buildings, and style, are SPECTACULAR! NO lines. ALMOST no other people. Just look at the photos here, versus Coba, On many occasions we were able to walk the ENTIRE complex alone, taking in the FEELING of BEING there – of BEING Myan in the year 1,000. In Muyil it is possible to imagine Myan boats arriving from the ocean, goods being unloaded and transported via the Sacbe’s to other villages. The buzz of people LIVING here. A thriving port CITY. This is a DO-NOT-MISS while in the Yucatan. ps. When you Travel Like an Architect – <Look For UNESCO sites> – This is one!

Interested in How YOU Can Do This?


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footnote: Please be nice, DO let us know about spelling errors. The blog was created on my Android Phone. It does NOT speak Spanish. Chichn Itza, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan were OFTEN turned into the STRANGEST words and phrases. TIA – Rob

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