Friday 15th December 2017

Palenque, The Jewel of Mayan Civilization

Mexico was the heartland of ancient civilizations of Americas, there is no other country in the new world that has such a huge numbers of well preserved ruins of the once mighty empires that ruled the large swathes of America. Both the nomadic Aztecs and their predecessors the Mayans made Mexico their home and have left such a marvelous piece of architecture behind them that even today they make their beholders gasp. Mayan civilization that ruled the Southern Mexico for over two millenniums constructed some of the most stunning buildings, especially their Pyramid shaped monasteries and palaces are an amazing sight to witness. Although you can find the ruins of ancient cities in any place of Mexico, the most famous of them all being the Teotihuacán just outside the Mexico City. But if you want to see the most ancient ruins of them all then head to the Palenque in the southern Mexico.

It was the strongest city state of Mayan civilization that flourished in the 7th century AD but the ruins of the area dates back to the 100 BC when the city was first built as a small settlement by the tribal people of the area. The sight is much smaller than the other sites in the area like Tikal which was a major city but what makes this sight unique is the surrounding jungle that covers the most parts of its ruins giving it a mysterious feel like a lost city in a Tomb Raider movie. The thick forest has made it difficult for the archeologist to completely explore the city of which they have uncovered about 2.5 sq km, but they believe it is the only 10 percent of the actual size of this great ancient city.

The closest airport to the site is in Villahermosa but unfortunately there are no international direct flights available for this airport. If you are travelling from outside of Mexico then the best option will be finding a cheap flight to Mexico City and then taking a connecting flight to Villahermosa. Regular bus service runs between Villahermosa and Palenque, you can also a take a car for this journey through the car hires of the city.

First place to head to after arriving in Palenque is the El Penchan, an old hangout place for the tourists and archeologists in the new town of Palenque. The reason we recommend it is that there will be many experts on Palenque sitting on the tables of its bars and restaurants and if you know how to get a little social with these guys then there is a fair bit of chance that you will get some valuable information about the site that you can not get through books. Other reason is the hotels of El Penchan which provide good quality of services at a decent price and are recommended for staying in during your time in the area.

The best way to explore the city is to do it in the company of a seasoned guide which will know where to take you for some mind blowing sight seeing. The grand temples of Palenque are the real attraction of the place; most of them are covered by the forest. As you enter the ruins you will find a line of temples to the right starting with the temple XII which is thought to be the most recent of all the temples built in the city. If you go further right you will find out that the forest starts to disappear and the most stunning group of temples comes in front of you almost suddenly. Their grandeur, artistic marvel and the beautiful inscription on their walls will surely be an awe inspiring experience for you.

The Palenque may not be as large as Tikal but it sure has every thing you will want to see in an ancient city, its plus point other than the beautiful surroundings is that getting and staying there is a lot cheaper than Tikal or other famous sites.