Mayan Ruins of Palenque, Mexico

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Last Updated on July 30, 2017 by Audrey Scott

Tucked into the folds of the jungle in Mexico's Chiapas region stands the mostly buried and only very partially exposed Mayan ruins of Palenque. If you haven't already experienced this place or you've come to feel ruin fatigue in this part of the world, consider a visit. For us, it's become one of our favorites.

One part impressive grandeur, another part illuminating detail, Palenque exists in multiple layers and feels like a never ending dig. It consists of a complex full of classical Mayan structures on one level — palaces, temples, living quarters, funeral chambers and elaborate chunks of stone once carved with Mayan glyphs — and features a mysterious, differently-styled almost subterranean jungle world beneath.

And this is only what you are able to see. It's estimated that the visible bits of the site represent only 10% of what's actually there. Upon stepping foot on Palenque's grounds, you can almost imagine this figure an underestimate.

The photo below was taken from the edge atop the Palace and features the uber-grand Temple of the Inscriptions, a funerary monument built for K'inich Janaab' Pakal, a ruler of Palenque during the 7th century.

Palenque Mayan Ruins in Chiapas, Mexico
A fisheye view of the Temple of the Inscriptions at the Palenque Mayan ruins in Chiapas, Mexico.
About Audrey Scott
Audrey Scott is a writer, storyteller, speaker and tourism development consultant. She aims to help turn people's fears into curiosity and connection. She harbors an obsession for artichokes and can bake a devastating pan of brownies. You can keep up with her adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about her on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

10 thoughts on “Mayan Ruins of Palenque, Mexico”

  1. What remains hidden beyond this serene, almost sacred 10% seems intriguing, but count me among those who hope that the haunting 90% remains in custody of its past inhabitants and is left for the imagination of the ages. I think I just heard the Spirits whisper, Amen.

  2. Palenque was definitely one of my fav ruins. I love how clean it is and if you go early enough, you can have it all to yourself.

  3. Cool! I’m going to Mexico this summer and just looking for new and interesting spots to visit! I’ve just added Palenque into my bucket list! Its ruins really worth a look!

  4. @Don: Well said.

    @Erica: The grounds crew at Palenque was certainly remarkable. We wondered how many people were assigned to each building across the complex. Serious maintenance and very clean.

    @Albert: Absolutely. Consider also checking out the post-classical Mayan ruins at Tulum as well. And if you are in the Riviera Maya area, Chichen Itza and Coba (#s 13, 4, and 10 respectively) here:

    @Ayngelina: We stayed in El Panchan, if that’s what you mean by the jungle. It was lively, but not quite as active as in Tikal

  5. After visiting Copan last week, Palenque is the only major Mayan city I have to visit. Wish I can go visit later this year.

  6. @Ruth: In the way of Mayan sites, along with Palenque, Copan (because of the detail, the atmosphere and the setting) are our favorites:

    Have a great time when you go to Palenque!

  7. Thats a great photo. I have always wanted to visit Palenque. Did they have any fees or restrictions on photography equipment?

  8. @David: Good question. The national park at Palenque charges a pretty hefty fee (I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it’s north of $100) for professional tripods — for photography or videography. But the use of ordinary cameras, DSLRs, telephoto lenses, etc. are not charged special fees.


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