The city was founded during the Late Pre-Classic period and was one of the most important cities in the Mayan region from 250 to 900 AD. The city was made up of farmers and hunters and became the capital of a powerful dynasty. Construction of the buildings in the city’s central area began around 431 AD. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The archaeological site is estimated to be 1780 hectares (~4400 acres), and 1,400 buildings have been identified, of which only about 10% have been explored. The platforms, ceremonial groups, plazas, palaces, aqueducts, mausoleums, and residential units reflect the city’s power.
Admission to the Palenque Archaeological Site
Admission to the site was 90.00 pesos, which comes to about USD 5.00. The admission price also included the museum.
The most notable structures are the Temple of the Inscriptions, the Palace, and the Temples of the Cross group – Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Foliated Cross.
The Temple of Inscriptions
Construction of this temple started in 675 AD and was to be a funeral monument for Hanab-Pakal. The Pyramid measures 60 meters wide, 42.5 meters deep, and 27.2 meters high. The Summit temple measures 25.5 meters wide, 105 meters deep, and 11.4 meters high.
The most significant discovery occurred on June 13, 1952. The Mexican government and the National Institute of Anthropology and History sent an excavation and research team to Palenque. The team discovered the tomb of Pakal the Great (K’inich Janaab Pakal).
The entrance to the tomb was hidden under a stone slab in a back room of the temple. A stone staircase led to a long passageway to Pakal’s tomb. The sarcophagus was moved and is now located in the museum.
Inside the Tomb
Temple of the Cross
This temple houses the primary patron god of Palenque, the god GI, also referred to as Hun Yeh Winkle (the ‘one-tooth’ creature). He is associated with the East and the Sun and has royal ancestry.
Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun is the best preserved of the three structures. It houses the god GIII, or K’inich Taj Wayib’ (the “Great Sun Torch”), a solar deity associated with warfare and tied to the underworld.
Temple of the Foliated Cross
The Temple of the Foliated Cross is the second highest in the complex. It houses the god G2, or Unen K’awiil (Inant K’awiil), the youngest of the triad of Palenque’s patron gods. He is the god of lightning, agricultural fertility, and the manifestation of royal power.
The Palace is a complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards. It was built by several generations on a wide artificial terrace over four centuries. The Mayan aristocracy used the Palace for bureaucratic functions, entertainment, and ritualistic ceremonies.
Here are a few other structures we encountered during our site visit.
We could either hike to the museum or take the bus; we opted for the hike. We saw some additional ruins along the way.
And a few small waterfalls to help soothe the soul with the sounds of the water.
Museo Sitio de Palenque “Alberto Ruz L’Huillier”
By the time we got to the museum, we were pretty tired. It was a very hot morning, so we just took pics without any of the captions. But the artifacts are still impressive.