Location: Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico
Today we visit Palenque. Ah, Palenque where to start. The architecture is remarkable and so are the friezes. Most Maya friezes I have seen are quite stylized and offer an abstract concept of a ruler or deity. Here they express personality.
Our tour started at the North Group, because that was the earliest part of the site. The structures have history and charm, but what one would call magnificent. Then we move on to the central plaza. The old time visitors bemoan the fact that you can no longer descend into the interior shaft of the Temple of the Inscriptions, but it is still a magnificent pyramid that dominates the plaza.
The palace fascinated me with its long interior corridors. I had seen nothing like this in the architecture of the Yucatán. Then there is the strange square tower placed in the middle of the palace. This was a later addition, and seems at odds with the palace surrounding it, but it commands a power all of its own.
The plaza of the Cross Group shows that they did not tire of creating magnificent architecture, but the place was popular with people and I was unable to gather many images free of tourists.
Perhaps the most magical part of the site was the path along the Otulum river leading down to the second entrance to the park. It is quite a descent, and I am glad that I am walking down, not up and that there was a bus to pick me up at the end. The trail is a delightful jungle walk on its own. There is no swimming allowed in the stream. I am told that this is because the water is so inviting that people frequently just take off their clothes and plunge right in. The nudity delights some visitors and annoys others, so the park officials sometimes patrol the walk. Such is life.
The sites along the stream have only been partially restored and left to the moss and the jungle trees to reclaim creating a rather primordial experience. I was glad to catch the sunbeams at the end of the trip. I would definitely go back here again.