Seeing the Temple of the Frescoes in Tulum

The Temple of the Frescoes stands among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

The Temple of the Frescoes stands among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

While the Temple of the Frescoes isn’t the largest structure at Tulum, to me it was one of the most interesting ones, because of all the details that can be seen in its walls. As you might guess, the building was named because of the frescoes painted inside of it. But unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to enter to see the frescoes. So we just have to take their word for it, I guess. Not that they would lie to us or anything. I trust them. I just wish I could see those. Oh well.

But this building shows some of what you would imagine seeing in Mayan architecture, specifically the designs that were carved into the stone. Here is a closer look at the corner seen at the center of the photo above:

The Temple of the Frescoes stands among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

How cool is that? These details have survived for over 600 years, and you can still tell much about them today. Back in the original days, the Mayans would also paint these buildings in different colors, but obviously, that hasn’t survived as well. So it is interesting to see that the carvings are still there. And if you look at it just the right way, you can see a face in the corner there. There are actually faces on several of the corners. Or there were. Unfortunately, you can see that the stone at the right side has already crumbled away somewhat.

The Temple of the Frescoes stands among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

Here is another detail from the top structure at the top of the building. Several carvings similar to this also ring the roofline of the lower part of the structure, as you can see in the first photo above. In addition to the paintings inside, this building was thought to be used to track the movements of the sun. Always interesting how important the sun was to ancient peoples and how carefully they tracked its movements.

The Temple of the Frescoes stands among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

Outside of the Temple of Frescoes is a stela, or altar, that has a calendar from 1263. Not that you can read that on there anymore, and not that they knew to date their years from the time of Christ at that time, but that is what the date works out to be. Also in this photo, you can see two of the stone faces at the corners a little better than in the earlier photo.

It is a little difficult to get a good sense of scale from looking at these photos, but when I first saw it in person I thought, “Wow, that’s a pretty short building!” Yes, it is two levels, but neither building is all that tall. The archways in particular look like you would have to duck to get through them. But that wasn’t a problem for the Mayan people since they were rather short themselves. Not that I am putting them down or anything, because I never was the tallest kid in the class, either. So I know how they feel. I am proud to stand tall with the short people!

Iguana at the Temple of the Frescoes at the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico.

All of the ruins at Tulum are well guarded by an army of iguanas, such as this one here. I don’t know that they are dangerous, but they certainly don’t look very cute and cuddly, do they? Actually, their rough appearance matches that of the ruins quite well, almost as though they sprang up from the stone or something. But even though they don’t look all that lovable, I bet these guys are photographed almost as much as the centuries-old ruins are. And I helped that count along with this photo here.

Although these ruins are well preserved, the crumbling stone in places is just a reminder that these buildings won’t be around forever, even though they have been there for quite some time. Things don’t last forever. Enjoy what you can while you can, but don’t hold on too tightly to something that you know won’t last.

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. - 1 John 2:15-17

About the Photo

These photos are a bit closer than some of what I have been posting lately because of the use of the 14-42mm lens, for reasons I discussed in an earlier post. But the good thing about the closer views is that you can see more of the details in the stone. So if I had been only using the fisheye lens here, I would have missed some of that in my photos.

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

World Bible School

Burnsland Email

Burnsland avatar
Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.