Mexico: Palanque

Palanque Ruins

Palanque as seen from the top of Templo de la Cruz

The ruins of Palanque set deep in a tropical rain forest can command anyone's attention. The site, having been seriously worked on for only about 50 years, has enough to attract renowned archaeologists with the same vigour and expectations as dumb tourists.

Templo de las Inscripciones One of the first monuments that captures the attention is the Templo de las Inscripciones (temple of the inscriptions). It was here that one of the most important recent discoveries in Mexican archaeology was made - the discovery of the tomb of Pakal. Pakal and his son, Kaan Balam II, are the two most famous rulers of this jungle paradise. The discovery of the tomb inside the pyramid challenged the accepted theory that all the pyramids of this region were only used as temples and never as burial sites. Unfortunately, the entry to the tomb is highly restricted. It is more often closed than open to public. You should Templo del Solconsider yourself lucky to see the celebrated sarcophagus lid of Pakal in its original form rather than gaping at its copy in one of the many museums in the country.

The biggest complex in the site is El Palacio, home to soldiers, captives and priests during its heydays. The complex houses a neat restored tower and a few gigantic relief of captive rulers.

The tallest pyramid in the ruins is the Templo de la Cruz and if you are planning to climb only one structure, it has to be this one. It gives an excellent bird's eye view of the whole ruins and the surrounding forests.

Palanque's pyramids also houses many important and impressive relief. The pick of these would be "Kaan Balam with a bounded captive" in Templo XVIII, "Balam's accession to the throne" in Templo del Sol, "Lord of the underworld smoking tobacco" and "Balam in full royal attire" in Templo de la Cruz.

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