The Mayans of Chiapas Made Their Mark on History with Palenque

Palenque was a Mayan city in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century, being occupied roughly between 226 BC to 799 AD. After its decline however, it was absorbed into a jungle of cedar and mahogany trees, but has since been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site attracting thousands of visitors to one of the many things to do in Chiapas.

During the sites burgeoning, many plazas and buildings, including the Templo de las Inscripciones, were constructed. The structures were characterized by mansard roofs and fine stucco bas-reliefs. Expansion and artistic development continued throughout shifts in the guard. And the elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the lightness of the sculptures with their Mayan mythological themes, attest to the creative genius of this civilization.

After 900 AD, Palenque was largely abandoned. In an area of Chiapas that receives the heaviest rainfall in Mexico, the ruins were soon overgrown, and the city remained unknown to the western world until 1746, when Mayan hunters revealed the existence of a jungle palace to a Spanish priest named Antonio de Solís. But it was not until 1837, when John Stephens, an amateur archaeology enthusiast from New York, reached Palenque, and the site was insightfully investigated. And another century passed before Alberto Ruz Lhuillier – the tireless Mexican archaeologist – uncovered a hidden crypt in 1952.

Today it continues to yield fascinating and beautiful secrets of Mexican culture – most recently, a succession of sculptures and frescoes in the Acrópolis del Sur area, which has vastly expanded our knowledge of Palenque’s peculiarly distinct Mexican history.

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