Bonampak, Mayan Ruins

Bonampak is a small Mayan city located in the state of Chiapas, close to the ruins of Yaxchilan. The site is well preserved and is composed by many interesting buildings. Bonampak is famous for the intact paintings inside the famous temple of the Mur

As of today the only part open to public in Bonampak is the area of the Main Plaza. You can visit the hill of Acropolis, with terraces and buildings. There is a magnificent carved Stella depicting the figure of a king. The other main attraction is the Temple of the Paintings. It is composed by 3 rooms, in each one there is a colored painting representing the life of the rulers of the city. Those are the most well preserved paintings ever found in the Maya country. They also indicate that the Maya were in fact practicing human sacrifice much before the arrival of the Toltecs. They also show how the king and queen were supposed to mutilate themselves as an offer to the Gods.

Located 30 miles south of Yaxchilan, close to the border of Guatemala, the city of Bonampak is hard to reach. The closest big city is Palenque, located at 87 miles. There is a road from Palenque to Bonampak (highway 199) but it is a tricky trip. It is better to visit the site with a organized tour by a local travel agency. The ruins are located around 5 miles from the gate. During high season, there is a free bus to drive you to the site. During low season a private car will do, unless you wish to walk until you reach the ruins.

The city of Bonampak was certainly a dependency of the great city of Yaxchilan, and reached its peak between 500 and 800 A.D. We know most of the paintings were realized during December, 790 as archaeologists were able to decipher the date-hieroglyph in one of the stones. The reason of its decline is unknown but the city was lost in the jungle for centuries. It was discovered by photographer Giles Healy in 1946 when he was documenting the life of local Indians. Currently the site is under excavation.

Bonampak, as Yaxchilan, is hard to reach. We suggest you to use a local travel agency and not to try to get there on your own. You will not be allowed to take pictures of the paintings using flash as it deteriorates them. Only 3 people at a time are allowed in any of the 3 rooms, if you visit Bonampak in high season, you may need a to wait a little until you enter the rooms.