Relaxing around the Palenque Ruins

Sitting on top of the Temple of the Cross

The Palenque ruins in Chiapas are situated in a very nice jungle environment. The archeological site is smaller than the large ones in Tikal, Chichen Itza or Copan, but very interesting because of the different architecture of the buildings. We particularly liked the relaxed surroundings, near a small river in the jungle.

From Merida, we take the bus to Palenque. It is a long ride, which takes us through various landscapes and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Palenque is a touristic town, taking full advantage of its location near the Maya ruins with the same name. We walk to our hotel through the main street with many shops. But the hotel is very beautiful with a nice courtyard where the birds in the trees sing cheerfully.

We visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque the next day. In contrast to Chichen Itza the temples are situated partly in the jungle, and along a small river.

Main Plaza

From the entrance we arrive immediately on the main plaza. Here is the impressive Temple of the Inscriptions. In the temple on top of the pyramid, there is an entrance to the tomb of Pakal, the most famous of the kings of Palenque. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to visit the tomb anymore.

Next to the Temple of the Inscriptions are two smaller, but also interesting temples. At one of them, the Temple of the Dying Moon, is a carved sculpture of a rabbit, for the Maya's a symbol for the Dying Moon.

On the North side of the main plaza is Temple XI, which is large but completely unexcavated. So we head for the Palacio east of the plaza, an immense structure with many rooms and corridors. It takes us a long time to wander through the building, trying to take in every detail. But our heads are full way before we have seen everything.

Jungle

After admiring the main temples, we decide to follow the river, to arrive at some beautiful waterfalls. The environment is beautiful here, so we stay for a while. The temples around here are in worse condition than the ones on the central square. But they are partly covered by the jungle, which makes them beautiful.

When we walk back to the main temples, more tourists have arrived. But it is no comparison to the crowds at Chichen Itza. We decide to sit down on top of the Palacio, just to relax and enjoy the magnificent view.

But there is still a lot to be seen, so after a while we head for more Palenque ruins in the Group of the Cross. Main structure here is the Temple of the Cross, which is also the highest in Palenque. From the top, we have a great view over this group of temples, situated around another plaza. The temples here are all a bit different from each other, with the comb on the roof of temple of the sub, and the temple of the Foliated cross built on the slope of a hill. But it's hot and we have seen so much that we decide it's time to go.

Lacandon indians

When we leave the Palenque ruins, and wait for a collectivo back to town, we see some Indians selling bows and arrows. These appear to be the Lacandone Indians, direct descendants from the Mayas. They still live in the jungle, leading a primitive life. But their culture is in danger of the westernization, since the youth is tempted to head to the cities. We buy a set of bow and arrows, if only to look at the appearance of the indians in simple dresses.

We enjoyed the Palenque Ruins very much. The temples are very beautiful and interesting, and they are situated in a great environment. A jungle and river with cascading waterfalls add to the great experience to enjoy in Palenque.

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