The ancient Mayan city of Palenque, with its superb jungle setting and exquisite architecture and decoration, is one of the marvels of Mexico. It is located in Chiapas but more easily reached via an excellent highway from Villahermosa, to the northwest.
Palenque was first occupied around 100 BC., but it flourished from about 600 to 700 AD. Its pyramid structures feature intricate and very fine stucco and carved bas-relief depicting historical and mythical events relating to the reign of the Mayan ruler, Lord Pacal, and his descendants. During Pakal's reign, many plazas and buildings, including the superlative Templo de las Inscripciones (Pakal's own mausoleum), were constructed.
Palenque's 500 buildings are spread over 15 sq km, but only a relatively few, in a fairly compact central area, have been excavated. Everything that is seen here was built without metal tools, pack animals or the wheel.