Palenque is an old Mayan city in the state of Chiapas, South of Mexico. In the Jungle of Chiapas, nestled on a thickly wooded ridge, are the ancient ruins of Palenque situated near a town of the same name. The jungle still hides 90% of the Mayan city.
The town of Palenque itself has no real attraction to speak of, but the nearby ancient Mayan city of Palenque is Mexico’s most breath-taking archaeological park: in our opinion, the best you’ll find anywhere in Mexico and a must-see Mexico experience. This archaeological site is one of the most visited in Mexico, and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
During the Mayan period, it was believed to be one of the most important cities of its day. The name Palenque was given to it by the Spanish; its original name, like so much of Mayan history, is shrouded in mystery. The setting is no less impressive than the architecture; they complement each other perfectly.
Surrounded by lush tropical forest and jungle, this site has a serene, mystical atmosphere. From the moment you enter, you feel engulfed by a sense of history, timelessness and awe. The surrounding forest is home to a huge variety of wildlife, such as the colourful toucan and monkeys, including howling monkeys.
When you’re wandering around these ruins keep in mind that everything you see was built without the benefit of metal tools, the horse or the wheel. This place was created with nothing but the tenacity of human labour.
Palenque contained tombs of ancient leaders and rulers, and still today, excavations are ongoing to uncover more of the mysteries and enigmas surrounding the ancient civilizations of the Maya. Some of the site is still roped off to visitors as work to uncover the hidden treasures, reclaimed by nature over centuries of disuse, continues. A relatively small number of the estimated 500+ buildings have been excavated.