Palenque, Archaeological Site

Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, is one of the most important archaeological sites of southern Mexico. Only partly excavated due to the lush jungle and the mountains around, this archaeological site is considered by many the most beautiful one.

Palenque remains the archetypal lost city image, slowly emerging from the mist of the jungle. The most important building is the Temple of Inscriptions without doubt. This temple is the mausoleum of Pacal-Kin the Great, the most prominent ruler of the city. His sarcophagus was carved in a huge stone and it was located in the heart of the building.

Other important buildings include the Palace, a large collection of buildings interconnected around a large terrace. The Three Temples (Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross). The Aqueduct and the Temple of the Lions.

Palenque also features a ballgame court, many other buildings including elite residences, tombs, and small temples.

Palenque has a lot of surprises to be discovered yet, as it is estimated that only 5% of the site has been unearthed so far. As per today, you can visit up to 34 structures and it is estimated that more than 500 are still lying under the jungle of Chiapas.

The ruins of Palenque are located at the foothills of Tumbala mountains in Chiapas. The easiest way to arrive to Palenque is by airplane. There are several private companies organizing flights from Chaipas's capital Tuxtla Gutierrez. To get to know the countryside, you can go by rental car. The best roads are from the city of Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco, and Escarcega in the State of Campeche.

The city of Palenque was inhabited since 300 BC (some artifacts and pottery found in the site reveal so) but the main city and buildings were raised between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, which is when Palenque reaches its height. The city was latter abandoned for unknown reasons up to this day. The jungle covered it quickly. It was discovered in 1773 but lost again until 1784. Several expeditions were sent to explore but the true excavation started in the 1970.

Palenque is an ideal place to visit off season to enjoy a peaceful day in a romantic lost city, in the middle of the jungle. It will take most of the day to explore all the buildings.