M7W – Palenque

Number five of my 16 candidates for Mexico’s 7 Wonders. Palenque is another place I visited in 2003, and one of my favourites. When you tour a country with a lot of examples of one type of thing, you can get tired of them. Cathedral fatigue/ waterfall fatigue / ancient ruin fatigue etc. But it won’t matter how many ruins you have seen prior to this one, you will want to stay all day. Because there is nothing else within walking distance, you probably will. Set in thick lush green jungle, over a huge site with very atmospheric mists rolling across it if you get there early enough.

From Wiki: . Palenque is a Maya archeological site near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas about 130 km south of Ciudad del Carmen. It is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings the Maya produced. The site was already long abandoned when the Spanish arrived in Chiapas. The first European to visit the ruins and publish an account was Father Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada in 1567; at the time the local Chol Maya called it Otolum meaning “Land with strong houses”, de la Nada roughly translated this into Spanish to give the site the name “Palenque”, meaning “fortification”. (The similarity with the name of the mythical Mayan hero Ixbalanque is coincidental.) Palenque also became the name for the town (Santo Domingo del Palenque) which was built over some peripheral ruins down in the valley from the main ceremonial center of the ancient city. An ancient name for the central core of the of the city currently consolidated was Lakam Ha, which translates as “Big Water”, for the numerous springs and wide cascades that are found within the site. Palenque was the capital of the important Classic period Maya city-state of B’aakal or B’aak (Bone), after one of the city’s most frequently occurring Emblem Glyphs.

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