Tulum ruins

Equinox in Tulum

Ancient Maya and the Equinox

The equinox is when the sun is perpendicular to the equator and the hours of night and day are equal. Many cultures associate it with rebirth or spiritual awakening. Here in Tulum it has a special place. The Mayans were obsessed with celestial movements, and planned much of their rituals and architecture around important celestial events. Many are familiar with the equinox at the Chichen Itza ruins, which is popular due to the “Feather serpent effect”. For a few days around the equinox, it appears that the head of the Feather Serpent at the base of the largest pyramid is slithering down from the heavens.

Equinox in Tulum

vernal equinox at the Tulum ruins

The sunrise through the castillo at Tulum ruins.

The Tulum ruins, while less well-known than Chichen Itza, have their own equinox effect. The Castillo on the cliffs of the ruins in Tulum may appear askance most times of the year, but architects perfectly positioned it so that the rising sun would shine directly through the entrance on the equinox. At sunset on the same day, the sun sets directly through the exit of the Castillo. The ancient citizens of Tulum originally knew their city as “Zama”–meaning sunrise–before the Spanish forced its abandonment. The town was an important centre of worship to the Descending-God, whose followers associated with the movements of Venus.  It makes sense that the rising of the sun on these special days would hold a sense of importance.

While Chichen Itza still draws the most visitors on these days, Tulum is quickly rising in popularity. Last year it drew around 17,000 visitors interested in renewing their energies and finding peace with the change of seasons. Whether you come to Tulum for the rebirth of a season, or any other time just to revel in the history and beautiful surroundings, check out BRM Rentals for the vacation rental that will allow you to relax in peace!

Discover more about the other Festivals in Tulum or Riviera Maya’s celebration of Día de los Muertos!