Historical Mayan City
19.04.2008 30 °C
We arrived in Palenque in the afternoon and found lovely accommodation in a place in the jungle called El Panchan. El Panchan is an area with a number of cabins and a couple of restaurants where there were a lot of travellers and a few hippies (judging by the number of people with guitars, big beards and dreads walking about). We found a place there which did really good pizza and cold beers. Nice.
Next day we got up early to go and visit the Mayan ruins. We managed to get a good guide for the ruins at the ticket office quite cheaply which was very worthwhile as it gives a much better understanding of the ruins. Palenque was quite a large city which was established around 200 ad and abandoned by the Mayans around 800 - 900 ad and was swallowed by the jungle. It was rediscovered during Spanish rule around 1750. There are thought to be around 1100 buildings but only 27 have been excavated at the moment.
There are thought to be many more temples and buildings, some of which have been seen by drilling down into the chambers with video cameras, in the area with Mayan treasures and artifacts still almost completely covered by the jungle vegitation. The royal palace was quite impressive with many carvings on the walls. The palace was constructed so that the sun and moon shon through windows and doorways in ways which could be predicted by the rulers according to the Mayan calendar. For example, the setting sun can be seen in four diffefent positions every 7th May. Some events of this kind only occur every 52 years.
The most poweful ruler at Palenque was Pakal who lived around 400ad. His tomb is the next most impressive building in Palenque and is called the hall of inscriptions. This building obviously has many inscriptions and also had the tomb secured by lots of complex stone keys and passage ways. Real Indiana Jones stuff. The building is well preserved but is just grey stone now. 1500 years ago it was brightly coloured in blues, yellows and reds.
The belief is that the city was abandoned due to two reasons. Firstly, the royal family became a bit inbred and lost control as marriage was only possible from within their own class. Also, because of the size the city grew to, the people who lived on the outskirts realised that they could exist without the help of the rulers and their supersticions and sacrifices.
The next day, we visited Agua Azul and Misol Ha. Misol Ha is a waterfall in the jungle which was nice. You can walk right under the waterfall without getting too wet. Agua Azul is a series of waterfalls with stunning bright blue water. We went for a bit of a swim in the pools around the falls. I thought it was going to be absolutely freezing but it was actually quite nice and refreshing.
Our next destination is Tulum on the Caribean coast for a bit of a relaxing week on the beach.