Friday, January 23, 2009


Palenque was a Mayan city, and is situated deep in the lush green rain forest of Southern Mexico. It was our favourite precolonial site of all those we visited. Only an estimated 5% of the ruins have been uncovered but those that have are very impressive. We particularly enjoyed the fact that we had access (though restricted) to some of the tombs, and the insides of most of the buildings. On the day of our visit it was raining off and on which seemed to keep most tourists away, so we had the place almost entirely to ourselves.

Some archeologists interpret the tower to be an astronomical observatory.

A stone lined aqueduct redirects a river to run right through the city. Much of it remains buried underground, but this portion is caved in.

The entrance to the interior of the palace

palenque door

The palace courtyard

corridor palenque

The king's bed, so we were told anyway.

Pacal's tomb

Pacal's mask, which is now in the museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, where we took this picture.

A diagram of the inside of Pacal's tomb. Visitors to the site used to be allowed down into the tomb, but the condensation from so many people breathing was destroying the murals, so now it is closed to the public. Below is the Museum of Anthropology's re-creation of the inside of the tomb. It is believed that the pyramid must have been built around the sarcophagus because of its massive size.

kings tomb palenque

tomb palenque
The Red Queen's tomb, however, is still open to the public. The red substance is cinnabar, a toxic mineral used both for decoration as well as to deter grave robbers (and archeologists).

palenque waterfall

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