Known for its grand ancient Mayan ruins, Palenque holds one of the country’s national treasures and after it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1980s, the preservation of its beauty has been lovingly continued. Today, the ruins of Palenque stand as a reminder of the mysterious Mayan world and is one of the most outstanding classical sites in Mexico.
The archaeological site of Palenque was constructed by the Mayan people, incorporating their own distinct design and craftsmanship; they created a structure that was to become one of the country’s most beloved ancient culturual sites of interest. Although not as large as Tikal, Palenque’s importance lies in its architectural inventiveness and fine design. Originally a powerful capital city in 500 A.D, the site actually had well over 1,400 buildings – but only 10% of it has been discovered and explored.
The structures are characterised by lightness and aim to achieve a level of elegance and refinement, with finely decorated sculptures and stucco artwork encrusted on the walls. Its most prominent structure is the Temple of Inscriptions, a large building in the centre of the site, that’s draped in thousands of ancient inscriptions, carved by the Mayan’s themselves and dating back to the 7th century. The design quite poignantly reflects the ideology and sociology of the ruling class of the classical Mayan period and stands amongst the landscape, creating a picturesque and unique site of exploration.
Year after year, travellers, adventurers and researchers descend on the Mayan city to discover aspects of the Mayan world that aren’t seen at the more popular destinations of Chichen Itza. Because it is relatively off-the-beaten track, there are also fewer crowds, but a guide is still recommended to ensure you get the most out of your experience and learn about the Mayan people and their city to the fullest extent.
When to go: The site of Palenque can be visited all year round, the dry season is between November and April.
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