Palenque, Mexico, in Words and Pictures
Palenque is a lost world. Captivating for even the most well-trodden travellers.
Great tangled balls of green yarn tumble from the Tumbalá mountains surrounding the archaic city, smothering its lost remnants in a cloak of leaves and dirt. Buried pockets of antiquity lay hidden in the jungle, past cascading waterfalls and loomed over by towering cedars and mahoganies.
Underground houses are squatted in by bats and beasties of all shapes and sizes and beckon the daring to explore their dark halls. The ruins of Palenque date back to 226 BC and the 2.5 square kilometres of uncovered structures are estimated to be only around 10% of the total city, leaving thousands of these hidden haunts scattered throughout the surrounding jungle.
The uncovered ruins sit on a manicured platform watched over by the Temple of the Cross, stoic and proud. In the main plaza sits the Temple of Inscriptions, the tomb of Palenque’s once great ruler Pakal and his once grand Palace, now worn and crumbling, slowly losing its battle to the decay of time. Across the plaza sits an unnamed structure adorned with an eerie bas-relief carving of the god of death (which oddly resembles Hollywood’s ‘Predator’).
Shaded by the looming canopies and with the tranquil Usumacinta trickling through the foliage there’s so much to do and see at Palenque you can easily spend several hours getting lost in this ancient world.