Palenque is famous for the ruins of a Mayan city dating from 600 AD to 800 AD
Set amidst thick trees, Palenque still evokes some of the wonder that the early Spanish visitors must have felt when they first came across the ruins. Palenque Mexico is actually a medium-sized archaeological site, much smaller than the huge sites like Tikal or else Copán, but it contains a few of the finest sculpture, architecture, roof comb as well as bas-relief carvings of the Mayan era.
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Palenque is located in the foothills of the Chiapas highlands. The city became dominant over the western Maya lowlands during the Late Classic, and engaged in hostilities with its neighbour Toniná that eventually eclipsed it. Hieroglyphic inscriptions at Palenque document a dynastic sequence stretching from the 5th century AD through to the end of the 8th century. The site is best known for theTemple of the Inscriptions, the mortuary shrine containing the tomb of king K’inich Janaab’ Pakal. The Cataratas de Agua Azul (Spanish for “Blue-water Falls”) are located in the Municipality of Tumbalá, 69 kilometers from Palenque by the road that leads towards San Cristóbal de las Casas.
How to Get There
By air – The closest airport is Villahermosa, about two hours away by road. Tuxtla Gutierrez, the airport for San Cristobal de las Casas is five to six hours away by bus. Both airports are well serviced with flights from Mexico City and other points in Mexico.
By road – The easiest way to get to Palenque is by bus. There are many buses daily from San Cristobal de las Casas (five hours), Tuxtla Gutierrez (six hours), Villahermosa (2.5 hours), Merida (10 hours), Campeche (5 hours), Cancun (13 hours). Daily (one or two buses) also ply from Mexico City (16 hours), Oaxaca (15 hours), Playa del Carmen (12 hours), and Tulum (12 hours).
It is also possible to get to Palenque from Flores in Guatemala by bus (6h, leaving Flores daily at 5am, USD 35.00).
The ruins are about 6 km from the town of Palenque and minibuses run between the town and ruins every 10 to 15 minutes during the day. Combis – shared taxis – are also available. Just wait at the park gate at El Panchan. A colectivo will pick you up.
Accomodations – Sleeping accomodation can be found either in the city of Palenque, or just outside the limits on the road to the national park.
The Kingdom of the Maya • Locations & Activities