After a couple more days on the road, we reached Palenque. We stayed at the Maya Bell Campsite – located one kilometer outside of the park. We really enjoyed this campsite as it was very well maintained, and there were actually several other people camping at the site! (This was the first time in the last two weeks we had shared a site with other campers.) The amazing ruins we saw at Palenque – and the return of good roads and other travelers strengthened our resolve to continue on and see the other sights in the Yucatan.
Here are some quick facts about Palenque:
- The earliest ruins in Palenque date from 226 BC, however the majority of the construction occurred during 700 AD.
- The ancient Mayan name for Palenque was- Lakamha – which means “big water.” This is probably a reference to the large river and waterfall at the site, which the ancient Mayans channelled using aqueducts.
- The ancient Mayans were the first to use a pressurized aqueduct in the new world.
- Everything at Palenque was built without metal tools, pack animals, or the wheel.
- One of the best known ruins at Palenque is the Temple of Inscriptions. On the interior rear wall of the temple are three panels with long Mayan inscriptions, recounting the history of Palenque and this building. The tomb of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal was found deep inside the building, and it is considered one of the most extravagant tombs ever found in the Americas.
- The archeological finds made in Palenque have made significant contributions to the study of the ancient Maya, owing to the extraordinary preservation of hieroglyphic text found on the Inscription Tablets and the finds inside the tomb of Pakal.
- The site was largely abandoned around 800 AD, and was slowly reclaimed by the forest. The area was very sparsely populated when the Spanish first arrived in the 1520s.