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- THE AMERICAS
- Alt Name:
- 500AD - 599AD
Palenque in Mexico is an important Maya archaeological site located just outside the modern city by the same name. It is thought that Palenque was first inhabited in around 100BC and excavations have uncovered writings about a king who ruled there in the fifth century AD, however the city was attacked several times by the inhabitants of neighbouring cities.
Pakal the Great
It was from the seventh century AD that Palenque began to develop once more under the rule of Pakal the Great (sometimes spelt “Pacal”). During his reign between 615 and 683 AD, Pakal built many of Palenque’s most impressive structures and they are often considered to be some of the most important pieces of Maya architecture. Pakal’s works were continued by his son, Kan B’alam.
Abandonment of Palenque
In approximately 711 AD, Palenque was attacked once more and, by 900 AD it was deserted. Having been discovered in the sixteenth century, Palenque is now a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a small, but interesting museum, exhibiting finds from the excavation of Palenque and giving an overview of its history.
Some of the most fascinating sites in Palenque include Pakal’s tomb, known as the Temple of the Inscriptions or “Templo de las Inscripciones”, the Palace (El Palacio) and several other temples, such as the Temple of the Sun (Los Templo del Sol) and the Temple of the Cross (Los Templo de la Cruz). Many of these temples centre off Palenque’s central plaza, a marvel in its own right as it was built over the river, requiring advanced engineering mechanisms.
Each of the structures in Palenque is ornate and lavishly decorated, bearing inscriptions chronicling the history of the city, which was probably the capital of the region. In fact, Palenque has the honour of having one of the best Maya inscriptions ever found, located in the Temple of the Inscriptions and telling the story of Palenque.
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Address: Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico
Phone: (916) 345-0356
Palenque is located around 6km west of the modern town of Palenque in Southern Mexican state of Chiapas. It is approx. 220km northeast of San Cristobal de las Casas and 290km northeast of Tuxtla Gutierrez. By bus (ask your hotel), the journey takes 5-6 hours from each of San Cristobal de las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez. There are also buses from Villahermosa (2.5 hours). The modern town of Palenque has a train station at Pakalna with connections to Cordoba, Veracruz, and Merida, Yucatan. There is also an airport with flights from Aerocaribe, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Ocosingo and Comitan de Dominguez. There are minibuses from the modern Palenque to the ruins.
Palenque’s ruins are open daily, 8am-4:30pm. The museum is open daily except Mondays, 10am-5pm. Entry to the site and the museum costs 90 Pesos.
Food and drink sold on site, shop on site.
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