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PALENQUE

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PALENQUE

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A journey to the world of the Mayas to uncover the legacy of one of the greatest Pre-Hispanic cultures and become embellished with the monumental constructions that rise like imposing giants over the exuberant forests of the State of Chiapas.

This will become a tour through history, with strolls among palaces and pyramids, around squares and acropolis, staring at hieroglyphics that tell about the lives of kings from the past, the workings of men that made these complex architectonic structures, an endless maze of corridors and mysterious subterranean galleries, over an area that at first sight appears to be untameable but that was actually conquered by the Maya people.

In the Archaeological Complex of Palenque the traveller must, by all means, pay a visit to the following sites:

- The Complejo Arqueologico de Palenque Archaeological Complex. Its temples and palaces show the notable development reached by the Maya civilization. Its buildings present structures with a high degree of complexity, with corridors, subterranean galleries and yards with particular architectonic lines, unique among this Pre-Hispanic culture.

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    The walls are characterized by their stucco applications and by the bass-relieves engraved on its massive stonewalls, some of which have even been deciphered by the scholars. The fabulous precincts that nowadays cause admiration and respect are just a tenth of what once was the mysterious and ancient City of the Mayas.

    Constructed in the midst of the rainforest of Chiapas and at only seven kilometres from the present town of Palenque, the complex was discovered in the 18th century. Archaeological researches have estimated its beginnings from approximately around the year 100 B.C. as an agricultural town.

    Its golden period came about during the so called Periodo Clasico Tardio, or Late Classical Period (600 to 900 A.D.), acknowledging Baka, or Solar Shield (615 to 683 A.D.), as the most important ruler of Palenque, reputedly the king that ordered the construction of the mausoleum from which his remains were unearthed.

    At his death, his elder son, Chan-Bahlum, or Serpent-Jaguar, was to continue with his father's legacy and so, the prosperous times still endured. Some centuries later Palenque was deserted and ultimately destroyed for reasons unknown.

    Visiting Palenque means going to an encounter with a Pre-Hispanic City that reflects the religious, artistic and scientific values of one of the highest points among the American civilizations.

    These are some of its foremost constructions:
    • The Templo de las Inscripciones Temple. Inside the walls of this remarkable pyramid the Mayas traced more than 600 hieroglyphs. One of the major findings took place in 1949, when the archaeologists found an imposing funerary chamber made from stone and profusely decorated in bass-relieves. Inside this chamber was also found the impressive sarcophagus of King Pakal, or Baka, the foremost governor of Palenque, among uncounted offerings and outfitted in garments adorned with precious jewels. The building of this mausoleum is believed to have been ordered by the king itself.


    • El Palacio - the Palace is the biggest building in Palenque. Its structure is pretty complicated, arranged by galleries, columns, interior yards, corridors, passages, scaled basements, and stone boards with hieroglyphic writings. The construction it crowned by a superb four-sided tower -quite probably the only one built during the classical period- that was presumably used as astronomical observatory.

      The construction of this striking building took a long time to be accomplished, especially during the kingdom of the grandson of Pakal. This fact was interpreted from the hieroglyphics that depict the history of the royal family, engraved on the walls and stairs of the palace.

      According to the researches of several scholars, the building might have been some kind of administrative building. Nevertheless, the presence of vapour baths in a contiguous yard indicates that it might as well have been the home to the principal authorities of the Mayas.


    • The Conjunto de la Cruz Cross Compound is an architectonical complex including the Templo del Sol Sun Temple, still in an excellent state of preservation and offering from its top a splendid overview of Palenque. The Templo de la Cruz that has lost its façade but its top crest is still visible. The Templo de la Cruz Foliada Leafed Ceoss Temple, which holds in its interior a corn plant representing the axis of the world and as a symbol of the cultivated Nature. And the Templo XIV, with boards containing inscriptions and figures of characters.


    • This compound, erected upon the orders of King Chan-Bahlum, son of Pakal, is located at some distance from the Palace, on the fringes of the exuberant jungle that surrounds Palenque.
    - The Site Museum consists of two halls devoted to permanent exhibitions and one for temporary ones, besides a shop of artisan's produce. Among the objects on exhibit, are worth mentioning a number of valuable ceramics, tablets carved in stone, glyphs, fragments of stucco, among other objects found in this Maya complex between the years of 1900 and 1995.

    It was inaugurated in the year of 1995 and is located at a distance of one kilometre from the Archaeological Center.

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