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El Castillo

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Zona Hotelera Tulum, 77765 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

MXN 95

Find it on google maps

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expert
Silvia
Local tour guide
"Visit El Castillo early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and the midday heat, allowing for a more peaceful exploration. Additionally, bring your swimwear because below the cliff where El Castillo sits, there's a beautiful beach where you can cool off after touring the ruins."

What is El Castillo?

El Castillo, also known as the Castle, is a captivating Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dominates the archaeological site of Tulum, perched on the rugged coastline overlooking the Caribbean Sea. With its impressive stairways and stone walls, it's an iconic symbol of the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization and an unmistakable landmark for any visitor. Radiating ancient allure, it once functioned as a temple and a fortress, a beacon guiding sailors through the reefs and a vanguard guarding against invasions.

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History of El Castillo

El Castillo's timeline is entwined with the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization. Constructed during the Late Post-Classic period of Mayan history, around the 13th century, it served not just as a physical structure but also as a temporal marker of power and influence. Archaeologists have unearthed tantalizing evidence that suggests the pyramid was built atop a previous structure – a common practice among the Maya to symbolize renewal and continuity. The strategic location and design features, such as its alignment to the Mayan calendar and astronomical events, reflect the depth of Mayan knowledge and their relationship with the cosmos.

The site has also been linked to the god Kukulcan, known as the feathered serpent, which hints at its religious significance. With Tulum being one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Maya, El Castillo stands as a testament to the resilience of a culture that withstood the test of time until the Spanish conquest.

Why is El Castillo Important?

El Castillo holds immense importance, both historically and culturally. It's one of the most palpable connections we have to the ancient Mayan world, exemplifying their architectural prowess, spiritual beliefs, and cosmological understanding. The pyramid's role in maritime navigation is especially noteworthy; it served as a lighthouse of sorts, with a fire atop the structure that would pass light through windows, aiding sailors to navigate safely.

This historical significance coupled with its stunning seaside backdrop makes El Castillo a poster child for Tulum and one of the most photographed structures in the Yucatan Peninsula. Its preservation and prominence in Mayan history education underscore its importance as an enduring symbol of the Maya's innovative spirit and their mastery of adapting to their environment.

Things to Do & See at El Castillo

While visiting El Castillo, your experience is much more than walking around an ancient pyramid. The real flavor comes from absorbing the entire ambiance of Tulum's coastal setting. You can observe the precise craftsmanship of the stone stairs, touch the coolness of limestone walls, and ponder the views that once greeted ancient Mayans every morning. If you come during the equinox, you'll be treated to the sight of the sun rising or setting perfectly aligned with El Castillo — a testament to the Mayan's incredible understanding of astronomy.

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Do take your time to walk along the beach below, where the Maya would have launched their canoes for trading voyages or gazed out for any signs of approaching visitors or threats. And of course, don't miss out on the photographic opportunities — the views of El Castillo against the backdrop of the turquoise Caribbean Sea are simply breathtaking.

Explore the surrounding structures as well, like the Temple of the Frescoes with its intricately painted murals and the Temple of the Descending God, both rich with their own history and significance. While you can no longer climb the steps of El Castillo for preservation reasons, this commanding structure still offers a connection to the past and a stunning frame for witnessing the natural beauty of Tulum.

Frequently asked questions

What is El Castillo in Tulum?

El Castillo, also known as the Castle, is a large pre-Columbian structure that served as a temple and a fortress in Tulum, an ancient Maya city located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the most prominent and well-preserved buildings in the Tulum archaeological site.

Can you climb El Castillo in Tulum?

No, climbing El Castillo and other structures in the Tulum archaeological site is not allowed in order to preserve the integrity of these ancient buildings and to ensure the safety of visitors.

How old is El Castillo in Tulum?

El Castillo in Tulum dates back to the pre-Columbian period, with most historians estimating it was built around the 13th or 14th century, during the late Post-Classic period of Mayan civilization.

What are the opening hours for visiting El Castillo in Tulum?

The Tulum archaeological site, including El Castillo, is open to visitors daily. The typical opening hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but it is recommended to check the latest information as hours may vary or change.

What should I bring when visiting El Castillo in Tulum?

When visiting El Castillo in Tulum, it is advisable to bring comfortable walking shoes, sun protection like a hat and sunscreen, water to stay hydrated, a camera for photos, and cash for the entrance fee and possible purchases from local vendors.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Zona Hotelera Tulum, 77765 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

MXN 95

Find it on google maps