Palenque, one of the most popular archaeological sites featured in the many Chiapas tours that visit the ruin, is a modern wellspring from which researchers have drawn some of the most detailed information about ancient Mayan civilization and culture.
Mayan ruins dominate the landscape and the primary archeological site, one of the state’s most important tourist destinations, lies just five miles from the city. Located on the first rise of the Tumbala mountains, the site looks out over the Usumacinta River. On arrival, prepare to be confronted by the largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the Temple of Inscriptions, covered with hieroglyphics that have contributed significantly to the study of Mayan history. The site is surrounded by beautiful natural areas, including the Misol-Ha waterfall with a drop of more than 100 feet, forming a large pool where you can swim.
Palenque became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, and in its heyday, it was a sprawling religious center that spanned nearly 25 square miles. Only roughly half a mile has been excavated, revealing what many consider to be the architectural peak of western Mayan civilization. The knowledge that there’s so much Mexican history yet to be excavated at Palenque, in particular, is surely part of the site’s enduring charm.