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Palenque: Ruins of a Pre-Hispanic Mayan City

During my trip through Mexico, I visited the sites of many significant ruins from Mexico City to Tulum on the Maya Riviera.

Our entire G Adventures group agreed that Palenque was the best, beating out the famed Chichen Itza.

Why did Palenque strike a chord with us? I believe it was the setting.

The Temple of the Skull at Palenque
The Temple of the Skull

Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum are all very exposed.

Several are in almost a desert-like setting, whereas Palenque is amidst the lush green jungle.

The setting helps give it a mystical feel, which is something it shares in common with Tikal, another great ruined city located in Guatemala.

The skull relief which gives the Temple of the Skull its name
The skull relief which gives the Temple of the Skull its name.
The Temple of the Inscriptions, which features Pakal's tomb discovered in 1952
The Temple of the Inscriptions, which features Pakal's tomb discovered in 1952.
The top of the Temple of the Inscriptions, which is not open to tourists to climb
The top of the Temple of the Inscriptions, which is not open to tourists to climb.
Inside the Palace, adorned with intricate reliefs
Inside the Palace, adorned with intricate reliefs.
Amazingly, original paint can still be seen on the walls inside the Palace
Amazingly, original paint can still be seen on the walls inside the Palace.
An accidental Jesus pose
An accidental Jesus poses with the rest of my G Adventures group. Alex, our CEO (guide) in training has the bright blue shirt on. Not pictured, Gaby, our Chief Experience Officer.
Temple of the Sun
According to our guide, the Temple of the Sun is a complete structure in Palenque because of the delicate stonework that still exists on the very top.
View of Palenque from atop the Temple of the Cross
View of Palenque from the Temple of the Cross.
View of the Palace from atop the Temple of the Cross at Palenque.
View of the Palace from atop the Temple of the Cross.

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The Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque became a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Click here for the complete list of UNESCO sites Dave has visited during his travels.

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My Mexico Ancient Civilizations tour was in partnership with G Adventures

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Beth

Friday 4th of October 2013

I think the lush green setting really helps add to the atmosphere of the ruins! Would much prefer that kind of setting to the more exposed ones.

Will def consider visiting here in addition to Chichen Itza!

Dave (Silverbackpacker)

Thursday 3rd of October 2013

I spent 3 days hitchhiking there in 1979........ I see from your photos that all the jungle that engulfed the ruins then have been cleared and footpaths laid. How it has changed......... the Mexicans must have realised that they have a top tourist attraction and preserved it. When i visited in 79 there was not any open site at all and we had to wander through trees to find the next building.

Dave

Thursday 3rd of October 2013

The amazing thing is there is still only a tiny percent of the total city of Palenque uncovered at this time, not including the largest building which our guide pointed to as being on top of a hill in the distance.

Even though there's more open space now than it was when you visited, Palenque still leaves a lot to the imagination. I think that's why we enjoyed it more than Chichen Itza, which so well manicured, it felt like the Disney World of ruins.

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