A Trip to the Past With Palenque

By: Tatyana Kogut.

The south of Mexico is the cradle of Maya civilization - one of the greatest cultures in human history. Born 3 thousand years ago, it is surrounded with historical mysteries and legends. But the most wonderful thing is that this world is still alive. Meeting with Maya means a travel to the past. The first place to get to know Maya is Uxmal. Then we advise you a travel to Palenque - a wonderful site. One of the main local attractions is the Temple of Inscriptions where in 1952 there was a true treasure found - Maya temple. The temple is one of the oldest Maya erections, preserved in its primeval state. There is also a Palace situated opposite the temple. The palace is adorned with ancient bas reliefs and stone carvings.
Palenque reached its grandeur in about 600-700 AC (approximately the same time as Tikal). However, its architecture style is very different, a more graceful one. For instance, the Palace is one of the best examples of the Classic residential architecture. Maya also created things of plaster (bas reliefs on the Temple of Inscriptions).


Temple of Inscriptions was built in 692 AC and is standing on a 21-meter platform. The temple is one of the principal structures of Palenque. Inside you will find huge stone slabs with various well-preserved inscriptions carved on them which helped learn the history of this great city.
Hieroglyphs found in the temple were created approximately in 700 AC. But the main object found there is a tomb. According to research, the sarcophagus was placed inside the temple before the pyramid was built.
The Palace was erected on a huge platform (10 meters high and 8 meters wide) and surrounded with stairs. This complex consists of 25 buildings and 4 yards, connected by narrow paths and staircases. In the south-east there is a four-story tower: the only Maya tower ever found. Its floors are connected by a small staircase. Scientists think the tower served as an observatory.
Temple of the Sun was probably built in 642 AC. Its plaster decorations and elaborately carved reliefs are the best-preserved in Palenque. There is also a wonderful stone bas relief found on its inner wall. It depicts sun worshiping.
Temple of the Cross is situated in the northern part of the complex, behind the Temple of the Sun. Some of the bas reliefs found on the temple's western wall are now kept in Regional Museum of Anthropology, Mexico city. The other two originals are situated on each side of the door. But the most beautiful of them is found inside the temple. These reliefs portray cross-like images which probably depict creation of the centre of the world.
There is also a court for playing the Mesoamerican Ballgame found in the northern part of the palace. Even though it has not been fully renovated yet, it is almost the same size as the court in Tikal.
Finally, the Temple of the Skull located to the right from the entrance to the Palenque archaeological zone. The temple got its name thanks to a beautiful skeletal rabbit mask found inside.
Visit ancient monuments in Palenque - make a trip to the past!

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