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Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions

Listed under Archaeological Sites in Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.

  • Photo of Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions
  • Photo of Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions
  • Photo of Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions
  • Photo of Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions
Photo of Palenque Mayan Ruins and the Temple of the Inscriptions
Photo by flickr user procsilas
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Vast, mysterious and enchanting, the ruined city of Palenque is considered to be the most beautifully conceived of all the Mayan cities. Nestled amidst steep and thickly forested hills, its temples and pyramids are frequently shrouded in lacy mists. During its period of cultural florescence, the 7th through 10th centuries, Palenque was even more beautiful, for then its limestone buildings were coated with white plaster and painted in a rainbow of pastel hues. Mysteriously, the great city was later abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle. Even the Mayan name of the city was lost, and the ruins received their current name from the nearby village of Santo Domingo de Palenque. Unknown until 18the century, this jewel of Mayan architecture was introduced to the world through the evocative writings and splendid drawings of the explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1841. While the ruins have received some of the most extensive reconstruction efforts of any Mayan site, only 34 structures have been excavated of an estimated 500 that are scattered around the area.

The Temple of the Inscriptions, erected in 692 AD, was a temple, a burial tomb and a pilgrimage site. Beneath the floor of an inner room a hidden stairway leads to a funerary crypt 80 feet below. The crypt contained a coffin and a skeleton covered with jade ornaments and other precious jewels. Inscriptions reveal the burial to have been of the priest-king Pacal Votan who ruled the city from 615 to 683 AD. The thirteen corbelled vaults leading to the burial crypt replicated the thirteen levels of heaven in Maya cosmology and the nine stages of the pyramid symbolized the nine levels of the underworld. The ruins of Palenque, like so many other Maya sites, were part of a vast regional sacred geography, itself a mirror of the night skies as viewed and understood by the Mayan astronomers.

Photo: The Temple of the Inscriptions, Mayan ruins of Palenque

Information from Sacred Sites about Palenque.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Other expert and press reviews

“Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque”

A prime example of a Mayan sanctuary of the classical period, Palenque was at its height between AD 500 and 700, when its influence extended throughout the basin of the Usumacinta River. The elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the li… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

this article is wonderful it gives lots and lots of info and it is a very awesome thing to read.

1 Reply

Thanks for your feedback Gabrielle - are there any other Mayan ruins you're interested in that we're missing?

Does the Mayan calendar indicate that Time will end/stop on 12/21/2012 at 11:11 GMT?

I've also heard the Egyptian Pyramid(s) have a timeline built into their inner structure that stops at that time. Any light you can shine will enlighten me & many others as to what may become of us, the Earth, Time, and Space.

Thanks a lot!

Steve McClung

Carpinteria, CA 93013

1 Reply

Have you been listening to the hype about the upcoming film? The Mayans had a different way of marking the passing of time called the Long Count Calendar which finishes it's cycle on the 20th of December 2012. It does start up again the next day though, on the 13th cycle, so the ancient Mayans had met the end of a cycle before and would have been partying like it was 1999, rather than worried about the end of the world. The ancient Mayans did predict events that happen beyond that date, so they mustn't have thought it was going to be the end of it all.

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