Seeing El Castillo at Tulum in Mexico

I was looking back through the photos of our 2016 Cruise to Mexico last year, and I realized that there are still several of those photos that I have not yet shared here. To help remedy that, here are a few photos for today, from our visit to the Mayan Ruins at Tulum.

El Castillo at Tulum in Mexico

The largest building at Tulum is known as El Castillo (previously pictured in this post, by the way). You might guess that the building was used as a castle; this would be a good guess based on its name, but you would be wrong. Sort of. It was probably actually more of a temple than a castle, used for the worship of the gods that the people of the city revered. Also, because of its large size and closeness to the coast, it could have been used as a landmark for those sailing along the coast, looking for the trading city of Tulum. No one seems to know for certain, which to me makes it all the more interesting.

Of course, it was interesting to begin with, considering its age, somewhere around 700 years old. Add that to the fact that it was built by ancient people that we don’t know much about, and you get mystery plus age, which is really cool to me.

The view above is probably what you would actually consider the “back” view, even though is the view that greeted those arriving by boat. And yes, it does look rather plain and ordinary, or as plain and ordinary as a 700-year-old building can look, I suppose. So to keep things interesting, here is the “front” side:

El Castillo at Tulum in Mexico

As you can see, this side looks even more fascinating than the plain stone side. If you look closely, you can see some of the carving and stone work that gives El Castillo some of its character. Plus, those openings at the top portion look more inviting than just a stone wall that is on the other side. However, you can also see that there were ropes to keep us visitors from climbing on  the ruins, no matter how inviting they might look. Even though it like the Mayans just really meant for you to climb, and they even made it easy for you by putting stairs on everything.

But no climbing the stairs for us. So we just got to gaze on it from a distance, while wondering what it might be like on the inside. Still, even though this was as close as we could get, it was still close enough to be able to enjoy the wonder of the area and get a little bit of a feel for the history of the city.

Laura at El Castillo in Tulum in Mexico

Photos are even better with some human interest, they say, so here is a photo of an interesting human at El Castillo in Tulum. That interesting human would be Laura, of course, and she was quite excited to visit this fascinating historical site. We both were, actually, because it was something that we had not done before. Having someone to enjoy seeing something with makes seeing that something even more enjoyable, even if that is a round-about sort of sentence. This photo also gives an idea of the size of El Castillo, which is around 25 feet tall. Not that I brought along a measuring tape to measure it; I just read that on the internet.

So just to say it once more, old things are really cool! Which is good, because I am not getting any younger.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. – Psalm 37:25

About the photo:

I chose to use the first photo as the main photo of this post on purpose, even though it is actually a photo of the “back” side of El Castillo. I really enjoyed both the composition and the way the colors turned out after the processing, and that is why it is featured. Even though it might be of the slightly less attractive side, I still think it is a great photo, and to me it really captures the feel of Tulum with the Mayan Ruins, the palm tree, and the people walking past.

Because there was an abundance of sunlight for these photos, I did what I could to bring that out even more in the processing. It was slightly challenging for the photo of Laura, since she was slightly in the shadows, but I think it turned out well. There were the usual adjustments to the original Raw files, followed by some Google Nik filter work, too. Here is a before-and-after comparison of the first photo:

El Castillo at Tulum before-and-after

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Olympus 14-42mm IIR
Date: July 18, 2016
Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

You can buy prints of these photos and other images from this site at the Burnsland Photos gallery. Look for the green Buy Photos button. Downloads for commercial license are also available.

2016 Cruise to Mexico


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