Temple of the Cormorants

An angled shot of Building 2 (Temple of the Cormorants) at the ancient Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, México:

Building 2 and steps

Dzibanché is an amazing little site to visit — it doesn’t get the press of the bigger sites (so there are never crowds), but it still has lots of interesting structures to see.

The Temple of the Cormorants is the site’s tallest structure, but sadly you can’t climb it.  Still, plenty to see from ground level.  This structure contains three burial chambers, one stacked atop the next in its core.  In the bottom one, archaeologists found the tomb of a member of the city’s elite, with a wealth of grave goods — including a polychrome vessel decorated with cormorants (giving the structure its modern name).

This shot’s taken from the northwest of the building — even from here you can see some of the structure’s many layers of construction, and you can just make out the stucco carvings under the sheltering roofs along the steps on its side.

Temple of the Frescoes

Seen from the southeast, this is the Temple of the Frescoes in the ancient Maya ruins of Tulúm, México:

Temple of the Frescoes

Sadly, the frescoes this structure draws its name from are inside, and unreachable by visitors. Still, there are some impressive stucco sculptures in the niches on the outside of the building.

Building 1

At the (fairly small) Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, Mexico:

Dzibanché's Building 1

This is a nicely restored little pyramid, and since the site of Dzibanché isn’t all that frequently visited, you can have it to yourself for a while. It’s a quick day-trip from either Costa Maya or Chetumal, too — an easy and affordable excursion should you find yourself in the area.

Tulúm shoreline

Looking north along the shoreline at the ancient Maya ruins of Tulúm in Quintana Roo, Mexico:

Tulum shoreline

Tulúm may not have the best architecture compared to other Maya sites, but you’ve got to admit that its location can’t be beat for photography! And if you’re lucky enough to show up at low tide, the beach in this picture is open to swimmers and sunbathers.

Temple of the Descending God

A piece of fast construction at the ancient Maya ruins of Tulúm in Quintana Roo, Mexico:

Temple of the Descending God

The structure’s named for an odd little head-down figure above the door. Given the lack of cracks in the structure’s wall, it was apparently built leaning the way it currently does — so it’s thought to have been built for immediate use, not as something “for the ages” (much like modern shopping malls).

BTW, this little building is far beyond the ropes at the sight, so you need a longish lens to get any decent shots of it. Bonus points to readers who can spot the iguana in the picture…

Dzibanché’s Eastern Complex

Well, OK — I have a confession to make. I don’t really know what this section of Dzibanché has actually been named. I do know that it’s way out on the eastern end of the site, and has recently been restored.

Eastern complex

Unfortunately, this part of Dzibanché has been restored so recently that it doesn’t yet have interpretive signs, or even show up on maps at the site itself. But it was fun to wander aimlessly through — lots of courtyards and buildings, some still preserving scraps of their original plaster. And few have heard of the place, so should you visit, you’ll likely have it to yourself.

On the beach

At the ruins of Tulúm in Quintana Roo, Mexico:

On the beach

You can’t actually walk on this beach (it’s reserved for nesting sea turtles), but a trail through the site runs right past it — and it makes a great foreground for shots like this! The only real problem is that trash tends to wash up after storms, so you need to clone it out of your shot (since, obviously, you can’t walk out and get it off the beach).