In the midst of a dense rainforest on the foothills of the Usumacinta Mountains is Palenque, one of the most popular archaeological sites in Mexico.
The monumental buildings of Palenque, such as the Temple Of The Cross, lay hidden in the rainforest for around 800 years until they were discovered in 1784. The monumental architectural character of this pyramid-like temple is typical of the ancient building style of the legendary Mayan people. In contrast to other Mayan towns in the central Mexican lowland, the buildings in Palenque are well built and decorated with bright stones. The colors of the surrounding rainforest are a picturesque setting for these splendid structures.
In 1952, a Mexican archaeologist discovered a deep shaft that led him to an underground crypt that contained the stone sarcophagus of Pacal the Great. The face of the sovereign was covered with a jade mask and many other jade figures surrounded his body. Today, the beautiful carved lid of the sarcophagus is on public view in the crypt.
Wide, raised steps lead to the most important construction area in Palenque, The Great Palace, that was built during the 7th and 8th centuries. The palace area was not just an embellishment, as numerous living and bathing rooms attest to the fact that the daily life of the monarchy also took place here.
Palenque is one of the most beautiful Mayan towns in Mexico. In 1994, after discovering another sarcophagus, excavations were extended over the entire area. However, the disappearance of this fascinating culture still remains a mystery.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroquecathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.