It was a melancholic place to explore, after you knew their fate.
Doesn't it seem a little odd the Game Developers would put all that time and effort into something most players would just ignore and blaze through just to get on with the game?
Perhaps this area had some purpose, more than just taking 5 steps and talking with Tikal as Tails?
Maybe the Developers were so largely inspired by the ruins they visited for research they decided to put a lot of detail in it?
I personally think there had to be more planned for it. I mean, there's just so much there, and so many buildings, some that even have what seems to be small doors...surely it wasn't all made just to serve a short purpose like it turned out to?