Palenque, Mexico

Palenque Travel Blog

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Palenque

After staying the night in Palenque, the next morning it was time to visit this Maya archeoligical site. We foudn out Palenque is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán which we visited later, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture and relief carvings the Maya produced. Still about 80% is still under the ground, but it is very expensive to dig it all up. Also because it is not so much visited as Chichen Itza.

An ancient name for the central core of the city currently consolidated was Lakam Ha, which translates as "Big Water", for the numerous springs and wide cascades that are found within the site. Palenque was the capital of the important Classic period Maya city-state of B'aakal ("Bone" in English).

Palenque
  The first ajaw, or king, of B'aakal that we know of was K'uk Balam (Quetzal Jaguar), who governed for four years starting in the year 431. After him, a king came to power, nicknamed Gasparín by archaeologists. The most famous of the Mayan kings, K'inich Janaab' Pakal, also known as Pakal II the Great. Starting at 12 years of age, he reigned in Palenque from 615 to 683. Known as the favorite of the gods, he carried Palenque to new levels of splendor, in spite of having come to power when the city was at a low point. Pakal married the princess of Oktán in 624 and had two children. During his government, most of the palaces and temples of Palenque were constructed; the city flourished as never before, eclipsing Tikal. The central complex, known as The Palace, was enlarged and remodeled on various occasions, notably in the years 654, 661, and 668.
Palenque
In this structure, is a text describing how in that epoch Palenque was newly allied with Tikal, and also with Yaxchilan, and that they were able to capture the six enemy kings of the alliance. Not much more had been translated from the text. The tomb of Pakal was found in 1952, after more than 1000 years.

Important structures at Palenque are the Palace, a complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards built up over several generations on a wide artificial terrace. The Palace houses many fine sculptures and relief carvings in addition to the distinctive four-story tower. The Temple of Inscriptions was begun perhaps as early as 675 as the funerary monument of K'inich Janaab' Pakal II. The temple superstructure houses the second longest glyphic text known from the Maya world (the longest is the Hieroglyphic Stairway at Copan).

Palenque
The Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Foliated Cross are a set of graceful temples atop step pyramids, each with an elaborately carved relief in the inner chamber depicting two figures presenting ritual objects and effigies to a central icon.

Palenque is a 'must' if you visiting the south of Mexico. Many travel agents and tourists are going to this impressive site of ancient history. I think you at least need 3 or 4 hours to see what is explored. In the last 15 or 20 years, a great deal more of the site has been excavated, but currently, archaeologists estimate that only 5% of the total city has been uncovered!

Later in the afternoon we went for San Cristóbal de las Casas. During our bus trip we went to Agua Azul in the afternoon. But the water was not Azul (Blue) but Brown, so we called it Agua Negro. That does not mean it was not beautiful to see it, especially the "violence" of the water.  After a meal we arrived in San Cristóbal.

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Aqua Azul
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photo by: monky