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Palenque Holidays

Palenque holidays

This jungle-enshrouded site is arguably the most romantic and magical of all the ancient Mayan cities. Its exquisite architecture is set amid dense green jungle. The site requires a regular workforce, armed with machetes, to protect it from the constantly encroaching jungle. The awesome but graceful pyramids are crowned with temples that glow in the tropical sun. Small rivers criss-cross the site, and there are trails through unexcavated sections of the 4,400 acre reserve.

After AD 900, Palenque was largely abandoned. In an area that receives the heaviest rainfall in Mexico, the ruins soon became overgrown. The city remained unknown to the Western world until 1746, when Mayan hunters revealed the existence of this jungle palace. Under leaders such as Pakal the Great and his oldest son and successor, Chan Bahlum, Palenque joined Calakmul, Tikal, and Copán as one of the most influential kingdoms of the lowland Maya.

Chiapas, Palenque

Holidays In Palenque

The ruins and surrounding  forest form a national park which is also home to howler monkeys, snakes, lizards, toucans and ocelots.

The town of Palenque is not particularly attractive. There are simple rustic restaurants, banks and internet cafes. The hotels in Palenque are rustic and normally group visitor orientated, but they are adequate for an overnight stop before proceeding to the Yucatán peninsula.

Mayan sites in Chiapas

Yaxchilán was built on a terrace at a large bend in the broad River Usumacinta. Its jungle setting and remoteness create a very special experience. Towering mahogany trees form a home for toucans, parrots and flycatchers. Howler monkeys also roar from the tops of gigantic ceiba trees. The final part of the journey to reach the site is only possible by boat.

Bonampak lies in dense jungle which hid it from the outside world until 1946. Never a major city, Bonampak spent most of the Classic period under Yaxchilán’s jurisdiction. The highlight is the murals in the Temple of the Paintings.

Toniná boasts one of the Mayan world’s most imposing temple complexes. This was the city that brought the mighty Palenque to its knees. Its fascinating history is well explained in the site museum.

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