Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Maya MarvelsEven if you have never visited the Riviera Maya, you will likely recognize the Maya site at Tulum, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. This is one of the latest of the pre-Columbian Mayan cities to have been built—in fact it was still used for about 70 years after the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico. It was unusual of the Maya to build a city so close to the sea, and the result for travelers today is a postcard-perfect setting while you explore the ruins of ancient temples and palaces.
Tulum served as a port for another Maya city, Coba, located 27 miles to the northwest of Tulum in the interior of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Coba was one of the most important Maya settlements, especially during the late classic period (around 600 to 900 C.E.) with many temples, ball courts, and palaces from the period. Visitors can climb the pyramid there, which has a height of 137 feet, and take in the views over the jungle canopy. While it is largely the buildings that draw visitors to Coba, the wall paintings and stelae that are on display are among the most important surviving Maya artifacts.