Deep in the middle of the jungle, Palenque developed as one of the most notable cites of the Maya Classic period, a powerful dynasty that dominated the northern mountains and plains of Chiapas and the state of Tabasco, a territory that some researchers have considered the Kingdom of Lakamba.
Recognized for its innovative artistic style and the high quality of its architectural and sculptural works, the site of Palenque reached its peak between 600 and 900 AD. They were the golden days of Pakal and his successors Kam Balam II, Kam Hoy Chitam II, Ahkal T’san Mo-Neb III and K’uk ’Balam II.
A tour of the archeological zone of Palenque should begin at the site museum which displays a collection composed of objects that were found during different times of exploration, among which include carved stone panels, stuccos and glyphs. Opposite the museum is a path that climbs the mountain and crosses a forest landscape adorned by Otolum Creek and its waterfalls. Groups of buildings such as Los Murcielagos are built on this road that ends at the Great Plaza. Here are the Ball Game Court, the Northern Group and the Temple of the Count, and the magnificent grand ensemble known as The Palace, whose architectural complexity, aesthetic refinement and majestic dimensions suggest that it may have served as the principal residence of the rulers.
Another majestic structure that overlooks the Grand Plaza is the Temple of Inscriptions. This building received its name because of the glyphs carved into the limestone panels that are inside. This is an authentic mausoleum that was commanded by King Pakal himself to serve as his tomb. This famous crypt is reached by a ladder that was hidden until 1952, when the tomb was discovered by Ruz Lhuillier, a French archaeologist who received his Mexican citizenship. The burial chamber has a monumental sarcophagus covered by a stone, both decorated with bas-reliefs like the walls of the crypt. The scene of the tombstone represents the Mayan ruler K’inich Janaab Pakal at the moment that he starts his journey into the underworld, including the monster of the Earth and the cross that symbolizes the cosmic tree that sits on the blue bird. To ensure this great stone’s conservation after five decades of mass visitors, the authorities of INAH decided to close its access to the public in 2004.
This large tombstone can now be accessed virtually through a website of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH-Conaculta), which remodeled one of its rooms to exhibit the exact replicas of the burial chamber and the tombstone.
http:/ / www.culturainah.org/panorama360/palenque
Next to the Temple of Inscriptions stands a platform on which the 7th and 8th buildings were erected, the latter being called the Temple of the Red Queen. The Otolum Stream, covered in part by a building called The Aqueduct, separates the central plaza of the Group of the Cross, which consists of the Temple of the Sun (the best preserved of the area), the Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Foliated Cross (where you can see a panel with the motif of a foliated cross representing the corn plant as the heart of the world), and the Temple XIV. On the banks of the Otolum within the forest, is located the remains of the Temple Bello Relieve, and also the Temples XIX and XX.
It is recommended when visiting this archaeological site to wear comfortable clothing, like blue jeans and tennis shoes. The pyramids are very steep and access requires good physical condition.
(PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL: provided by The Chiapas Secretary Tourism for the promotion of the entity).