I was really looking forward to visiting Palenque and the Palenque ruins.
Once again it was HOT as I rode. Most of the time it hovered around 40 degrees Celsius. And once again the road was straight with bushes on either side. That is until just outside of Palenque when the vegetation began to change. All of a sudden there were trees and greenery. It was still hot though.
Hotel Maya Tulipanes
I had booked the Hotel Maya Tulipanes in Palenque. It was like an oasis during the hot day.
My room wasn’t ready yet as I arrived early in the afternoon as I normally do. So I just relaxed for a bit and talked to one of the staff about tours. I like the tours to sites only because I don’t have to worry about my motorcycle when I am at them.
I ended up booking a whole day tour for tomorrow to three different places – Palenque Ruins, Misol-Ha Waterfalls, and Cascadas Agua Azul.
The next day I woke up early to head off in a van to the Palenque ruins.
UNESCO on the Palenque Ruins
The UNESCO website describes the ruins:
The archaeological site of Palenque in the state of Chiapas is one of the most outstanding Classic period sites of the Maya area, known for its exceptional and well conserved architectural and sculptural remains. The elegance and craftsmanship of the construction, as well as the lightness of the sculpted reliefs illustrating Mayan mythology, attest to the creative genius of this civilization.
The city was founded during the Late Preclassic, which corresponds to the beginning of the Christian era. Its first inhabitants probably migrated from other sites in the nearby region. They always shared the cultural features which define the Maya culture, as well as a level of development that allowed them to adapt to the natural environment. After several centuries, ca. 500 A.D., the city rose to be a powerful capital within a regional political unit. Without a buffer zone the total area of the archeological site is 1780 hectares, 09 areas and 49 square meters and 1,400 buildings have been recorded, of which only about 10% have been explored.
Palenque has been the object of interest of numerous travelers, explorers and researchers since the 18th century. It illustrates one of the most significant achievements of mankind in the American continent. The ancient city has a planned urban layout, with monumental edifices and some of the largest clearings found in all the Maya area. Numerous residential areas with habitation units, funerary, ritual and productive activity areas were placed around the administrative and civic ceremonial centre.
The palencano style is unique for its high degree of refinement, lightness and harmony. It includes buildings with vaulted roofs upon which pierced crestings emphasized its height. Its architecture is also characterized by its interior sanctuaries and modeled stucco scenes found on its freezes, columns, walls, crests, as well as ogival vaults, vaulted halls connecting galleries and T-shaped windows, among other unique architectural features. The sophisticated architectural designs and the rich decoration reflect the history and ideology of the ruling class and incorporate the writing and calendaric systems. The architecture of the site is integrated in the landscape, creating a city of unique beauty.
Once the ancient city of Palenque was abandoned around the 9th century, the thick jungle surrounding it covered its temples and palaces. This vegetation largely protected the buildings and their elements from looting. Furthermore, the fact that the area remained uninhabited, from its abandonment until the Colonial period, aided the protection of the site’s integrity.
Residential areas, buildings with political and administrative functions, as well as those whose function was ritual are conserved in their original setting, turning the site with its exceptional artistic and architectural features into a living museum.
As in the case of the site’s integrity, the authenticity of the site and its elements was protected by the dense vegetation and the fact that the city was abandoned already in pre-Hispanic times. Furthermore, factors like the choice of durable raw materials and high quality manufacturing techniques aided in the conservation of the material culture of Palenque and in conserving the form and design of the property.
Visiting the Palenque Ruins
It was a pretty short drive to the ruins where they dropped us off to explore.
The ruins were in the middle of a jungle. And it was misty. And you could hear the sounds of animals that you just don’t hear back home. Soooooo cool.
I won’t try to describe what I saw as I wondered around. So here are a lot of pictures.
Now that was the main terrace of ruins. To get to where the van was going to pick us up I needed to climb down to the road. Along the way down there were other ruins, where the commoners would live. the walk back down along a trail was awesome.
What an amazing experience. Loved it.
Back at the bottom I waited for the van to go to Misol-Ha Waterfalls, and Cascadas Agua Azul.