Palenque is a famous archeological site in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was formed by the natives of the ancient civilization called Maya. Palenque contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings produced by the Maya.
Palenque is set in the foothills of the Tumbala Mountains of Chiapas Mexico. It overlooks the swampy plains that stretch northward all the way to the Gulf coast. This positioning between two worlds gives Palenque a mystical charm that allures scientists and tourists alike. The breath taking scenery of the flat plains to the north and the backdrop of the Mountains to the south captures the imagination of one and all.
The flood plain of the Usumacinta to the north provided Palenque’s inhabitants the resources to construct this city. Today the city is known for its architectural marvels.
The most notable structures of Palenque are the Palace and the Temple of Inscriptions. The construction of both these structures began during the reign of Hanab Pacal and was completed by his sons.
The architecture of Palenque was inventive and based on scientific knowledge. To reduce the massive weight of the traditional corbel arch they reduced its span with a dividing wall and used tribolated hollows that considerably lessen the stress on load bearing walls. This enabled them to construct buildings with multiple piers and doorways on the front to let air and sunlight inside. To enhance the appearance of the structures they constructed Mansard roofs decorated with stucco carvings and horizontal moldings.
Off the west of the main plaza is the first temple built by Pacal, known as the Temple Olvidado. Also on the same mound is Temple XII. This is the first structure visitors see as they enter the site. It is also known as the temple of the Skull and the Temple of the Dead Moon.
The Northern Group consists of four temples, aligned on an artificially leveled terrace. The Ball Court north of the Palace is still unexcavated. There is a natural pool just below a waterfall on the Otulum river. It is known as the Queen’s Bath and is still used as a bathing spot.