Palenque

Palenque

Palenque in Mexico is an important Maya archaeological site located just outside the modern city by the same name.

History of Palenque

It is thought that Palenque was first inhabited in around 100BC and excavations have uncovered writings about a king who ruled there in the fifth century AD, however the city was attacked several times by the inhabitants of neighbouring cities.

It was from the seventh century AD that Palenque began to develop once more under the rule of Pakal the Great (sometimes spelt “Pacal”). During his reign between 615 and 683 AD, Pakal built many of Palenque’s most impressive structures and they are often considered to be some of the most important pieces of Maya architecture. Pakal’s works were continued by his son, Kan B’alam.

In approximately 711 AD, Palenque was attacked once more and, by 900 AD it was deserted. Little attention was given to Palenque by the Spanish, and it was only in the 1830s that the ruins were taken notice of. European explorers Desire Charnay and Alfred Maudslay both took extensive photographs of the site.

In the 1950s, Mexican archaeological teams moved in to do the first real excavation of the site: it’s estimated that even today, only about 5% of the site has been uncovered.

Many of Palenque’s temples centre off the central plaza, a marvel in its own right as it was built over the river, requiring advanced engineering mechanisms. It’s also worth remembering that everything at Palenque was built without metal tools, pack animals or the wheel.

Each of the structures in Palenque is ornate and lavishly decorated, bearing inscriptions chronicling the history of the city, which was probably the capital of the region. In fact, Palenque has the honour of having one of the best Maya inscriptions ever found, located in the Temple of the Inscriptions and telling the story of Palenque.

Palenque today

The remoteness of Palenque lends to its atmosphere, and it’s an incredible place to visit. Go early in the morning to enjoy the site without crowds and before it gets too hot – the sticky jungle heat is draining. If the weather’s right, you might see the ruins shrouded in early morning mist. Equally, sunset is a good time to visit as the crowds head home.

Wear good shoes: there’s plenty to climb and you’ll end up walking through jungle paths. There are vendors outside as well as guides offering their services, should you want refreshments or more information.

There’s a relatively small but interesting museum containing many of the finds from Palenque which is worth visiting.

Templo de las Inscripciones

Built in the 7th century as a funerary monument, the temple contains the second longest Maya glyphic text known. It records about 180 years of Palenque’s history. In the 1950s, archaeologist discovered a hidden passageway which led to Pakal’s tomb: highly decorated and elaborate, the tomb was an important discovery as it proved that the use of the pyramids could be multifaceted i.e. both a temple and a tomb.

El Palacio

El Palacio is located at the centre of Palenque, and is a complex rather than one building. Named El Palacio (the palace) because it was used by the Maya equivalent of aristocracy, it would have had ceremonial, bureaucratic and social functions. There’s also evidence that El Palacio had baths and saunas filled with fresh water, which was no small feat of engineering and plumbing.

Getting to Palenque

Palenque is remote. Located in the heart of Chiapas, you’ll need to take twisty mountain roads to get here from Villahermosa or San Cristobal de las Casas by bus – there are less frequent services from further afield too. The town of Palenque has decent accommodation options, and it’s easy to get a combi to the ruins from here.


An elastic collision is a collision in which there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system as a result of the collision. Both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved quantities in elastic collisions. They collide, bouncing off each other with no loss in speed.

Perfectly elastic collisions can happen only with subatomic particles. Everyday observable examples of perfectly elastic collisions don’t exist—some kinetic energy is always lost, as it is converted into heat transfer due to friction.


Contents

Legal slavery was present in Brazil for approximately three centuries, with the earliest known landing of enslaved Africans taking place 52 years after the Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot in Brazil in 1500. [2] The demand for enslaved Africans continued to increase through the 18th century, even as the Brazilian sugar economy ceased to dominate the world economy. In its place, commodity crops such as tobacco increased in prominence. [3]

During the sugar boom period (1570–1670), the sugar plantations in Brazil presented hellish conditions, even including the personal brutality of some slave owners. There was high physical exertion on workers, especially during harvest season. In addition, enslaved people were held to nearly-impossible daily production quotas while having to contend with lack of rest and food. Economically in sugar plantations, it was cheaper for owners of enslaved Africans to work them to death and get new replacement enslaved people. [4] Conditions were so bad that even the Crown intervened on at least two occasions, forcing plantation owners to give their slaves sufficient food. [3]

Settlements were formed by enslaved Africans who escaped from plantations. Some slave owners, such as Friedrich won Weech, regarded the first escape attempt as a part of "breaking in" process for new slaves. The first escape attempt would be punished severely as a deterrent for future escapes. Slaves who tried to escape a second time would be sent to slave prison, and those who tried a third time would be sold. [5] In general, slaves who were caught running away were also required to wear an iron collar around their necks at all times, in addition to the punishment they received.

Not all slaves who ran away formed settlements in Brazil. Escape from a life of slavery was a matter of opportunity. Settlements were formed in areas with dense populations of slaves, like Pernambuco, where the biggest collection of mocambos formed the quilombo that became Palmares. While many quilombos were formed in rural areas such as Palmares, some were formed inside of cities, such as the pt:Quilombo de Leblon inside of Rio de Janeiro. [6] Some, among them Mahommah G. Baquaqua, escaped to New York because his multiple attempts at escape and suicide led to him being sold to a ship's captain. [7]

It is widely believed that the term quilombo establishes a link between settlements and the culture of West Central Africa from where the majority of slaves were forcibly brought to Brazil. [ citation needed ] During the era of slave trafficking, natives in central Angola, called Imbangala, had created an institution called a kilombo that united various tribes of diverse lineage into a community designed for military resistance. [ citation needed ]

Many quilombos were near Portuguese plantations and settlements. To keep their freedom, they were active both in defending against capitães do mato and being commissioned to recapture other runaway slaves. At the same time, they facilitated the escape of even more enslaved persons. [8] For this reason, they were targets of the Dutch, then Portuguese colonial authorities and, later, of the Brazilian state and slave owners.

Despite the atmosphere of cooperation between some quilombos and the surrounding Portuguese settlements, they were almost always eventually destroyed. Seven of 10 major quilombos in colonial Brazil were terminated within two years of formation. Some mocambos that were farther from Portuguese settlements and the later Brazilian cities were tolerated and still exist as towns today, with their dwellers speaking Portuguese Creole languages. [9]

Palmares Edit

The most famous quilombo was Palmares, an independent, self-sustaining community near Recife, established in about 1600. Palmares was massive and consisted of several settlements with a combined population of over 30,000 citizens, mostly blacks. It was to survive almost an entire century. [10] Part of the reason for the massive size of the quilombo at Palmares was because of its location in Brazil, at the median point between the Atlantic Ocean and Guinea, an important area of the African slave trade. Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining community of escaped slaves from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, "a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Bahia". [11]

At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000. Forced to defend against repeated attacks by Portuguese colonists, the warriors of Palmares were experts in capoeira, a dance and martial art form. [ citation needed ]

Ganga Zumba and Zumbi are the two best-known warrior-leaders of Palmares which, after a history of conflict with first Dutch and then Portuguese colonial authorities, finally fell to a Portuguese artillery assault in 1694. Portuguese soldiers sometimes stated it took more than one dragoon to capture a quilombo warrior since they would defend themselves with a strangely moving fighting technique (capoeira). The governor from that province declared that "it is harder to defeat a quilombo than the Dutch invaders". [ citation needed ]

In Brazil, both men are now honored as heroes and symbols of black pride, freedom, and democracy. As his birthday is unknown, Zumbi's execution date, November 20, is observed as Dia da Consciência Negra or "Black Awareness Day" in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and his image has appeared on postage stamps, banknotes, and coins.

Mola Edit

The Mola quilombo consisted of approximately 300 formerly enslaved people and had a high degree of political, social and military organization. [12] Felipa Maria Aranha was the first leader of the community. [13] The group was also led by Maria Luiza Piriá. [14] It was organised as a republic, with democratic voting in place. [15] Over the course of the Mola quilombo's life, it expanded to include four other similar settlements in the region and was known as the Confederação do Itapocu. [16] [14] In 1895 there were still traces of the settlement to be seen as of 2020, they had disappeared. [17]

Curiaú Edit

In 1992, the Rio Curiaú Environmental Protection Area was established for the inhabitants of Curiaú de Dentro, Curiaú de Fora, Casa Grande, Curralinho and Mocambo. [18] The area is located near the capital Macapá and measures 21,676 hectares (53,560 acres). [19] As of 1999, the protected area is home to about 1,500 people. [18]

Cunani Edit

Even though Cunani is better known as the capital of the unrecognised Republic of Independent Guiana, [20] it has been designated a Quilombo settlement, and therefore, has been given its own territory similar to the indigenous territories. [21]

A 1984 film entitled Quilombo [22] depicts the rise and fall of Palmares. Directed by Carlos Diegues, Quilombo is a historical epic that chronicles the lives of Ganga Zumba and Zumbi.

Article 68 of the 1988 Constitution of Brazil granted the remaining quilombos the collective ownership of the lands they had occupied since colonial times. [23] As of 2016, 294 villages have applied to be recognized as quilombos, because they were founded by escaped slaves and are mainly inhabited by their descendents. The certification process thus far has been slow, and 152 villages have been recognized as quilombos. [24]

In South American Spanish of the Southern Cone the word quilombo has come to mean brothel in Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay and Uruguay, a mess, noise or disorder in Venezuela, a remote or out-of-the-way place. [25]


Palenque

Palenque is in Chiapas, Mexico famous for the ruins of a Mayan city dating from about 600 AD to 800 AD. Set amidst thick trees, Palenque still evokes some of the wonder that the early Spanish visitors must have felt when they first came across the ruins.

Palenque is actually a medium-sized archaeological site, much smaller than the huge sites like Tikal or else Copán, but it contains a few of the finest sculpture, architecture, roof comb as well as bas-relief carvings of the Mayan era.

Palenque in Yucatec Maya “Bàak”, also anciently known as Lakamha (literally: “Big Water”), was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century. The Palenque ruins date from ca. 226 BC to ca. AD 799.After its decline, it was absorbed into the jungle of cedar, mahogany, and sapodilla trees, but has since been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site attracting thousands of visitors. It is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, about 130 km (81 mi) south of Ciudad del Carmen,[citation needed] 150 m (164 yd) above sea level. It averages a humid 26 °C (79 °F) with roughly 2160 mm (85 in) of rain a year.

Palenque is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal, Chichen Itza, or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments historians now have a long sequence of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 5th century and extensive knowledge of the city-state’s rivalry with other states such as Calakmul and Toniná. The most famous ruler of Palenque was K’inich Janaab Pakal, or Pacal the Great, whose tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions.

By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 2.5 km² (1 sq mi), but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.

History

Mythological beings used a variety of emblem glyphs in their titles indeed suggests a complex early history. For instance, K’uk’ B’ahlam, the supposed founder of the Palenque dynasty, is called a Toktan Ajaw in the text of the Temple of the Foliated Cross.

The famous structures that we know today probably represent a rebuilding effort in response to the attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in 599 and 611. One of the main figures responsible for rebuilding Palenque and for a renaissance in the city’s art and architecture is also one of the best-known Maya Ajaw, K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (Pacal the Great), who ruled from 615 to 683. He is best known through his funerary monument, dubbed the Temple of Inscriptions after the lengthy text preserved in the temple’s superstructure. At the time Alberto Ruz Lhuillier excavated Pakal’s tomb it was the richest and best preserved of any scientifically excavated burial then known from the ancient Americas. It held this position until the discovery of the rich Moche burials at Sipan, Peru and the recent discoveries at Copan and Calakmul.

Beside the attention that K’inich Janaab’ Pakal’s tomb brought to Palenque, the city is historically significant for its extensive hieroglyphic corpus composed during the reigns of Janaab’ Pakal his son K’inich Kan B’ahlam and his grandson K’inich Akal Mo’ Naab’, and for being the location where Heinrich Berlin and later Linda Schele and Peter Mathews outlined the first dynastic list for any Maya city. The work of Tatiana Proskouriakoff as well as that of Berlin, Schele, Mathews, and others initiated the intense historical investigations that characterized much of the scholarship on the ancient Maya from the 1960s to the present. The extensive iconography and textual corpus has also allowed for study of Classic period Maya mythology and ritual practice.

Early Classic period

The first ajaw, or king, of B’aakal that we know of was K’uk Balam (Quetzal Jaguar), who governed for four years starting in the year 431. After him, a king came to power, nicknamed Casper by archaeologists. The next two kings were probably Casper’s sons. Little was known about the first of these, B’utz Aj Sak Chiik, until 1994, when a tablet was found describing a ritual for the king. The first tablet mentioned his successor Ahkal Mo’ Naab I as a teenage prince, and therefore it is believed that there was a family relation between them. For unknown reasons, Akhal Mo’ Naab I had great prestige, so the kings who succeeded him were proud to be his descendants.

When Ahkal Mo’ Naab I died in 524, there was an interregnum of four years, before the following king was crowned en Toktán in 529. K’an Joy Chitam I governed for 36 years. His sons Ahkal Mo’ Naab II and K’an B’alam I were the first kings who used the title Kinich, which means “the great sun”. This word was used also by later kings. B’alam was succeeded in 583 by Yohl Ik’nal, who was supposedly his daughter. The inscriptions found in Palenque document a battle that occurred under her government in which troops from Calakmul invaded and sacked Palenque, a military feat without known precedents. These events took place in 599.

A second victory by Calakmul occurred some twelve years later, in 611, under the government of Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat, son of Yohl Iknal. In this occasion, the king of Calakmul entered Palenque in person, consolidating a significant military disaster, which was followed by an epoch of political disorder. Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat was to die in 612.

Late Classic period

B’aakal began the Late Classic period in the throes of the disorder created by the defeats before Calakmul. The glyphic panels at the Temple of Inscriptions, which records the events at this time, relates that some fundamental annual religious ceremonies were not performed in 613, and at this point states: “Lost is the divine lady, lost is the king.” Mentions of the government at the time have not been found.

It is believed that after the death of Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat, Janaab Pakal, also called Pakal I, took power thanks to a political agreement. Janaab Pakal assumed the functions of the ajaw (king) but never was crowned. He was succeeded in 612 by his daughter, the queen Sak K’uk’, who governed for only three years until her son was old enough to rule. It is considered that the dynasty was reestablished from then on, so B’aakal retook the path of glory and splendor.

The grandson of Janaab Pakal is the most famous of the Mayan kings, K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, also known as Pakal the Great. He began rule at the age of 12 years after his mother Sak Kuk resigned as queen after three years, thus passing power on to him. Pakal the Great reigned in Palenque from 615 to 683, and his mother remained an important force for the first 25 years of his rule. She may have ruled jointly with him. Known as the favorite of the gods, he carried Palenque to new levels of splendor, in spite of having come to power when the city was at a low point. Pakal married the princess of Oktán, Lady Tzakbu Ajaw (also known as Ahpo-Hel) in 624 and had at least three children.

During his government, most of the palaces and temples of Palenque were constructed the city flourished as never before, eclipsing Tikal. The central complex, known as The Palace, was enlarged and remodeled on various occasions, notably in the years 654, 661, and 668. In this structure, is a text describing how in that epoch Palenque was newly allied with Tikal, and also with Yaxchilan, and that they were able to capture the six enemy kings of the alliance. Not much more had been translated from the text.

After the death of Pakal in 683, his older son K’inich Kan B’alam assumed the kingship of B’aakal, who in turn was succeeded in 702 by his brother K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. The first continued the architectural and sculptural works that were begun by his father, as well as finishing the construction of the famous tomb of Pakal. Pakal’s sarcophagus, built for a very tall man, held the richest collection of jade seen in a Mayan tomb. A jade mosaic mask was placed over his face, and a suit made of jade adorned his body, with each piece hand-carved and held together by gold wire.

Furthermore, K’inich Kan B’alam I began ambitious projects, like the Group of the Crosses. Thanks to numerous works begun during his government, now we have portraits of this king, found in various sculptures. His brother succeeded him continuing with the same enthusiasm of construction and art, reconstructing and enlarging the north side of the Palace. Thanks to the reign of these three kings, B’aakal had a century of growing and splendor.

In 711, Palenque was sacked by the realm of Toniná, and the old king K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II was taken prisoner. It is not known what the final destination of the king was, and it is presumed that he was executed in Toniná. For 10 years there was no king. Finally, K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nab’ III was crowned in 722. Although the new king belonged to the royalty, there is no reason to be sure that he was the direct inheritor direct of K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. It is believed, therefore, that this coronation was a break in the dynastic line, and probably K’inich Ahkal Nab’ arrived to power after years of maneuvering and forging political alliances. This king, his son, and grandson governed until the end of the 8th century. Little is known about this period, except that, among other events, the war with Toniná continued, where there are hieroglyphics that record a new defeat of Palenque.

Abandonment

During the 8th century, B’aakal came under increasing stress, in concert with most other Classic Mayan city-states, and there was no new elite construction in the ceremonial center sometime after 800. An agricultural population continued to live here for a few generations, then the site was abandoned and was slowly grown over by the forest. The district was very sparsely populated when the Spanish first arrived in the 1520s. Occasionally city-state lords were women. Lady Sak Kuk ruled at Palenque for at least three years starting in 612 CE, before she passed her title to her son. However, these female rulers were accorded male attributes. Thus, these women became more masculine as they assumed roles that were typically male roles.

Site structures

Temple of the Inscriptions

The Temple of Inscriptions had begun perhaps as early as 675 as the funerary monument of Hanab-Pakal. The temple superstructure houses the second longest glyphic text known from the Maya world (the longest is the Hieroglyphic Stairway at Copan). The Temple of the Inscriptions records approximately 180 years of the city’s history from the 4th through 12th K’atun. The focal point of the narrative records K’inich Janaab’ Pakal’s K’atun period-ending rituals focused on the icons of the city’s patron deities prosaically known collectively as the Palenque Triad or individually as GI, GII, and GIII.

The Pyramid measures 60 meters wide, 42.5 meters deep and 27.2 meters high. The Summit temple measures 25.5 meters wide, 10.5 meters deep and 11.4 meters high. The largest stones weigh 12 to 15 tons. These were on top of the Pyramid. The Total volume of pyramid and temple is 32,500 cu. meters.

In 1952 Alberto Ruz Lhuillier removed a stone slab in the floor of the back room of the temple superstructure to reveal a passageway (filled in shortly before the city’s abandonment and reopened by archeologists) leading through a long stairway to Pakal’s tomb. The tomb itself is remarkable for its large carved sarcophagus, the rich ornaments accompanying Pakal, and for the stucco sculpture decorating the walls of the tomb. Unique to Pakal’s tomb is the psychoduct, which leads from the tomb itself, up the stairway and through a hole in the stone covering the entrance to the burial. This psychoduct is perhaps a physical reference to concepts about the departure of the soul at the time of death in Maya eschatology where in the inscriptions the phrase ochb’ihaj sak ik’il (the white breath road-entered) is used to refer to the leaving of the soul. A find such as this is greatly important because it demonstrated for the first time the temple usage as being multifaceted. These pyramids were, for the first time, identified as temples and also funerary structures.

The much-discussed iconography of the sarcophagus lid depicts Pakal in the guise of one of the manifestations of the Maya Maize God emerging from the maws of the underworld.

The temple also has a duct structure that still is not completely understood by archaeologists. It has been suggested that the duct aligns with the winter solstice and that the sun shines down on Pakal’s tomb.

Temples of the Cross group

The Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross are a set of graceful temples atop step pyramids, each with an elaborately carved relief in the inner chamber depicting two figures presenting ritual objects and effigies to a central icon. Earlier interpretations had argued that the smaller figure was that of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal while the larger figure was K’inich Kan B’ahlam. However, it is now known based on a better understanding of the iconography and epigraphy that the central tablet depicts two images of Kan B’ahlam. The smaller figure shows K’inich Kan B’ahlam during a rite of passage ritual at the age of six (9.10.8.9.3 9 Akbal 6 Xul) while the larger is of his accession to kingship at the age of 48. These temples were named by early explorers the cross-like images in two of the reliefs actually depict the tree of creation at the center of the world in Maya mythology.

The Palace, a complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards, was built by several generations on a wide artificial terrace during four century period. The Palace was used by the Mayan aristocracy for bureaucratic functions, entertainment, and ritualistic ceremonies. The Palace is located in the center of the ancient city.

Within the Palace there are numerous sculptures and bas-relief carvings that have been conserved. The Palace most unusual and recognizable feature is the four-story tower known as The Observation Tower. The Observation Tower like many other buildings at the site exhibit a mansard-like roof. The A-shaped Corbel arch is an architectural motif observed throughout the complex. The Corbel arches require a large amount of masonry mass and are limited to a small dimensional ratio of width to height providing the characteristic high ceilings and narrow passageways. The Palace was equipped with numerous large baths and saunas which were supplied with fresh water by an intricate water system. An aqueduct, constructed of great stone blocks with a three-meter-high vault, diverts the Otulum River to flow underneath the main plaza. The Palace is the largest building complex in Palenque measuring 97 meters by 73 meters at its base.

Other Notable Constructions

The Temple of the Skull has a skull on one of the pillars.

Temple XIII contained the Tomb of the Red Queen, an unknown noble woman, possibly the wife of Pakal, discovered in 1994. The remains in the sarcophagus were completely covered with a bright red powder made of cinnabar.

The Temple of The Jaguar (a.k.a. The Temple of the Beautiful Relief) at a distance of some 200 meters south of the main group of temples its name came from the elaborate bas-relief carving of a king seated on a throne in the form of a jaguar.

Structure XII with a bas-relief carving of the God of Death.

Temple of the Count another elegant Classic Palenque temple, which got its name from the fact that early explorer Jean Frederic Waldeck lived in the building for some time, and Waldeck claimed to be a count.

The site also has a number of other temples, tombs, and elite residences, some a good distance from the center of the site, a court for playing the Mesoamerican Ballgame, and an interesting stone bridge over the Otulum River some distance below the Aqueduct.

Modern investigations

Palenque is perhaps the most studied and written about of Maya sites.

After de la Nada’s brief account of the ruins no attention was paid to them until 1773 when one Don Ramon de Ordoñez y Aguilar examined Palenque and sent a report to the Capitan General in Antigua Guatemala, a further examination was made in 1784 saying that the ruins were of particular interest, so two years later surveyor and architect Antonio Bernasconi was sent with a small military force under Colonel Antonio del Río to examine the site in more detail. Del Rio’s forces smashed through several walls to see what could be found, doing a fair amount of damage to the Palace, while Bernasconi made the first map of the site as well as drawing copies of a few of the bas-relief figures and sculptures. Draughtsman Luciano Castañeda made more drawings in 1807, and a book on Palenque, Descriptions of the Ruins of an Ancient City, discovered near Palenque, was published in London in 1822 based on the reports of those last two expeditions together with engravings based on Bernasconi and Castañedas drawings two more publications in 1834 contained descriptions and drawings based on the same sources.

Juan Galindo visited Palenque in 1831, and filed a report with the Central American government. He was the first to note that the figures depicted in Palenque’s ancient art looked like the local Native Americans some other early explorers, even years later, attributed the site to such distant peoples as Egyptians, Polynesians, or the Lost Tribes of Israel.

Starting in 1832 Jean Frederic Waldeck spent two years at Palenque making numerous drawings, but most of his work was not published until 1866. Meanwhile, the site was visited in 1840 first by Patrick Walker and Herbert Caddy on a mission from the governor of British Honduras, and then by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood who published an illustrated account the following year which was greatly superior to the previous accounts of the ruins.

Désiré Charnay took the first photographs of Palenque in 1858, and returned in 1881–1882. Alfred Maudslay encamped at the ruins in 1890–1891 and took extensive photographs of all the art and inscriptions he could find, and made paper and plaster molds of many of the inscriptions, and detailed maps and drawings, setting a high standard for all future investigators to follow. Maudslay learned the technique of making the papier mache molds of the sculptures from Frenchman Desire Charnay.

Several other expeditions visited the ruins before Frans Blom of Tulane University in 1923, who made superior maps of both the main site and various previously neglected outlying ruins and filed a report for the Mexican government on recommendations on work that could be done to preserve the ruins.

From 1949 through 1952 Alberto Ruz Lhuillier supervised excavations and consolidations of the site for Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) it was Ruz Lhuillier who was the first person to gaze upon Pacal the Great’s tomb in over a thousand years. Ruz worked for four years at the Temple of Inscriptions before unearthing the tomb. Further INAH work was done in lead by Jorge Acosta into the 1970s.

In 1973, the first of the very productive Palenque Mesa Redonda (Round table) conferences was held here on the inspiration of Merle Greene Robertson thereafter every few years leading Mayanists would meet at Palenque to discuss and examine new findings in the field. Meanwhile, Robertson was conducting a detailed examination of all art at Palenque, including recording all the traces of color on the sculptures.

The 1970s also saw a small museum built at the site.

In the last 15 or 20 years, a great deal more of the site has been excavated, but currently, archaeologists estimate that only 5% of the total city has been uncovered

Palenque remains much visited, and perhaps evokes more affection in visitors than any other Mesoamerican ruin.

In 2010, Pennsylvania State University researchers, Christopher Duffy and Kirk French, identified the Piedras Bolas Aqueduct as a pressurised aqueduct, the earliest known in the New World. It is a spring-fed conduit located on steep terrain that has a restricted opening that would cause the water to exit forcefully, under pressure, to a height of 6 metres (20 ft). They were unable to identify the use for this man-made feature.

How to get there

A new airport just opened in Palenque with direct flights from Mexico City with Interjet (

$150 USD each way) and Tuxtla Gutiérrez with Ka’an Air (

$115 USD each way). As of May 2014 there was no shuttle bus from the airport. The only option are fixed priced taxis – to city centre only 3km away (M$200) and to the ruins area about 7km away (M$250). The closest public bus from the airport is over 2km away.

The next closest airport is in Villahermosa is about 2.5 hours away by road. Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the airport for San Cristobal de las Casas is five to six hours away by bus. Both airports are well serviced with flights from Mexico City and other points in Mexico.

The easiest way to get to Palenque is by bus. From the airport you can take a prepaid taxi to the bus station in town, which is 280 Pesos(August 2014)and it takes 30 minutes. There are two bus stations in town and both are just 2 minutes walk distance between them. There are many buses daily from San Cristobal de las Casas (five hours), Tuxtla Gutiérrez (six hours), Villahermosa (2.5 hours), Merida (8 hours), Campeche (5 hours), Cancun (13 hours). Daily (one or two buses) also ply from Mexico City (16 hours), Oaxaca (15 hours), Playa del Carmen (12 hours), and Tulum (12 hours).

Also if you would like to blend in with people and culture colectivos (Passenger Van) are the best way. Take a colectivo from Tuxtla Gutierrez bus station to San Cristobal de las Casas (2 hours/50 Pesos), then to Ocosingo (3 hours/65 Pesos) and finally from there to Palenque (3 hours/ 60 Pesos). You can stay overnight in any of these towns to continue your journey the next day. Taxis are really cheap around 20 Pesos to most of the hostels/Hotels. Colectivos start early in the morning mostly by 4am.

It is also possible to get to Palenque from Flores in Guatemala by bus (6h, leaving Flores daily at 5am, USD 35.00).

The ruins are about 6 km from the town of Palenque and colectivos run between the town and ruins every 10 to 15 minutes during the day. Cost is 20 pesos flat rate around the town. (September 2016) There are a number of visitors (both International and Mexican) who drive around, so hitchhiking is another option.

Other ruins in the general area are Yaxchilán and Bonampak. These can be arranged by day trip (650 pesos, december 2013) or overnighter (1,250 pesos, december 2013) with any agency in town.

Misol Ha and Agua Azul are famous waterfalls in the area. The town’s many tour agencies organize 7 hour combination trips to both falls for 130-150 pesos, excluding entrance fees (30 and 38 pesos respectively). (December 2013) The falls are just an hour or so outside town, but the tours are arranged so that there is time to swim and eat (at Agua Azul).

Entrance for Aqua Azul 40 pesos (2015, March)

For a visit to Roberto Barrios (entrance fee: 20$) you can take a colectivo from the local market in Palenque. The ride takes around 45 minutes for 50 Pesos. Alternatively, in El Panchan half-day tours are offered for 150$. They start at noon and offer enough time for a swim. Unless you want to stop in town for shopping you may consider it. (Nov󈧔)

Site and around

Spend a whole day exploring the site which spreads over 15 sq km. Only the central acropolis has been excavated. The Templo de Las Inscripciones, a burial monument, is the tallest building. El Palacio, the rulers’ residence, was built in stages from 400 AD to 900 AD and underwent restoration in 1955. There’s a 31 peso fee to enter the national park, and then another 65 peso for the ruin site (September 2016).

There are two entrances to the ruins – The first one starts from the jungle part of the ruins and is often overlooked by people who head straight to the main entrance 1.5 km away. If you arrive there in the early morning (The ruin opens at 8am), you would likely be the only one to enjoy the serenity of the ruins before other visitors start coming in. Palenque gets hot and humid around noon, so start the trip early!

There is an entrance to the trail between ruin entrances – don’t miss it for more ‘jungle experience’ featuring howler monkeys, waterfalls and hidden ruins.

A short hike to the nearby Mishol-Ha waterfall offers a variation on the ruin touring. This is a high waterfall into a natural pool with a path leading behind the falls to a cave. Bring a swimsuit and only swim during low flows.

Many tour operators will offer guided visits of the ruins, providing added background and knowledge regarding Palenque’s history.

Day tours only: Na Chan Kan, Multi-day tours in Chiapas, including Palenque: Adventure Life.

Where to stay

Sleeping accomodation can be found either in the city of Palenque, or just outside the limits on the road to the national park. That’s the main question you have to ask yourself – whether to stay in town or in the jungle. The town saves you on food, the jungle on accommodation. The jungle is well worth it.

Plaza Palenque Inn (Hotel), Road railroad station km 27 (near archeological zone, near bus station), ☎ 916 3450555, checkin: 14:00 checkout: 13:00. Between the comfort and pleasure you can enjoy 96 rooms ac,tv cable, wi fi areas, pool with hammocks area, pool bar, spa, restaurant, cafeteria, room service, events halls, parking lot and their friendly hospitality. from 39.00 usd.

El Panchan. El Panchan is a complex of mixed accomodations from camping (M$30/night) to cabanas. It also hosts a number of restaurants of different price ranges. Conveniently located near the ruins.

Jungle Palace, (In El Panchan). For budget travelers, Jungle Palace offers cheap cabanas (M$100 for one person, M$150 for 2 people).

Margarita and Ed Cabañas, (In El Panchan). Very friendly, clean, but not super cheap. They have icey cold airconditioned rooms, a bare necessity after hiking through the ruins at Palenque during rainy (and pretty much all other) season(s). Private with A/C from US$30.

Posada Nan Chan Ka’an, (In the city center at the corner where the colectivos for the ruins leave). checkin: 24h checkout: by 12.00. Very friendly, clean budget spot in the town of Palenque. Laundry, free internet and WIFI. Hot water (also in dorms). Dorms are very hot with no fans, no lockers, the tin roof is extremely loud when it rains, the corner outside is unnecessarily loud from early in the morning, and the staff isn’t that friendly. Dorms 140MX, double 300MX, triple 350MX (Jan2016).

There are plenty of Posadas in town range from 150 to 250 for a double room.

Just 2 Km from the ruins there is a newly opened Eco park that rescues endanger animals and breeds endanger spices from the area. It is Aluxes www.ecoparquepalenque.com worth a visit on the way to and from the Archeological Ruins. They also offer night tours and special activities for children.

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Where to Stay in Palenque

While most visitors to Palenque choose to stay in the town itself, I opted to stay in the nearby hostels of El Panchan. There, I could eat meals on-site, walk to the ruins, and call taxis for the occasional ride into town. And after spending one full day in the town of Palenque, I was glad of that decision I think I enjoyed staying in the jungle much more than I would’ve enjoyed staying in the rather underwhelming city center.

There are a few housing options at El Panchan, as a number of small companies offer accommodation in the complex. No matter which hostel you go with, you can expect basic rooms and low prices– but plan to book in person upon arrival, as there’s no online reservation system.

One of the few restaurants in El Panchan

If I were to go back (and splurge a bit more on accommodation), I would probably stay at Kin Balam Cabañas for its pool, nicer rooms, and proximity to the ruins. If you’d prefer to book your stay in advance, that might be the way to go.

Cost of a basic 4-bed dorm: $9.50 USD | €8.50 | £7

Cost of a standard double private: $29 USD | €26 | £22

Book a stay at Kin Balam Cabañas


Palenque - History

The Red Queen: A Mayan Mystery

Archaeological documentary about the Red Queen, found next to Lord Pacal’s tomb at Palenque. Aired on Discovery channel in 2005.

Collage of Palenque.

Palenque (Yucatec Maya: Bàak’ /ɓàːkʼ/) was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century. The Palenque ruins date back to 226 BC to around 799 AD. After its decline, it was absorbed into the jungle, which is made up of cedar, mahogany, and sapodilla trees, but has been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site attracting thousands of visitors. It is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, located about 130 km (81 mi) south of Ciudad del Carmen about 150 m (164 yd) above sea level. It stays at a humid 26°C (79°F) with roughly 2160 mm (85 in) of rain a year.

Palenque is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal, Chichen Itza, or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments historians now have a long sequence of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 5th century and extensive knowledge of the city-state’s rivalry with other states such as Calakmul and Toniná. The most famous ruler of Palenque was Pacal the Great whose tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions.

By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 2.5 km² (1 sq mi), but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.

Stone carving of Pacal the Great, one of the main figures responsible for the city’s art and architecture.

Much of the Early Classic history of the city still awaits the archaeologist’s trowel. However, from the extent of the surveyed site and the reference to Early Classic rulers in the inscriptional record of the Late Classic, it is clear Palenque’s history is much longer than we currently know. The fact that early ajaw (king or lord) and mythological beings used a variety of emblem glyphs in their titles indeed suggests a complex early history. For instance, K’uk’ B’ahlam, the supposed founder of the Palenque dynasty, is called a Toktan Ajaw in the text of the Temple of the Foliated Cross.

The famous structures that we know today probably represent a rebuilding effort in response to the attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in 599 and 611. [2] One of the main figures responsible for rebuilding Palenque and for a renaissance in the city’s art and architecture is also one of the best-known Maya Ajaw, K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (Pacal the Great), who ruled from 615 to 683. He is best known through his funerary monument, dubbed the Temple of Inscriptions after the lengthy text preserved in the temple’s superstructure. At the time Alberto Ruz Lhuillier excavated Pakal’s tomb it was the richest and best preserved of any scientifically excavated burial then known from the ancient Americas. It held this position until the discovery of the rich Moche burials at Sipan, Peru and the recent discoveries at Copan and Calakmul.

/>A bas-relief in the Palenque museum that depicts Upakal K’inich, the son of K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Naab III.

Beside the attention that K’inich Janaab’ Pakal’s tomb brought to Palenque, the city is historically significant for its extensive hieroglyphic corpus composed during the reigns of Janaab’ Pakal his son K’inich Kan B’ahlam and his grandson K’inich Akal Mo’ Naab’, and for being the location where Heinrich Berlin and later Linda Schele and Peter Mathews outlined the first dynastic list for any Maya city. The work of Tatiana Proskouriakoff as well as that of Berlin, Schele, Mathews, and others initiated the intense historical investigations that characterized much of the scholarship on the ancient Maya from the 1960s to the present. The extensive iconography and textual corpus has also allowed for study of Classic period Maya mythology and ritual practice.

A list of possible and known Maya rulers of the city, with dates of their reigns:

    ? 967- ? BC (legendary? – Olmec?) ? 252- ? BC 431-435 AD
  • “Casper�-487 AD 487-501 AD 501-524 AD 529-565 AD 565-570 AD 572-583 AD 583-604 AD (female) 605-612 AD 612 AD 612-615 AD (female) 615-683 AD (“Pakal the Great”) 684-702 AD 702-722? AD 722-741? AD ? ? -764? AD ? ? 651 ? AD ? 764- ? AD ? 799- ? AD (uncertain)

Early Classic Period

The first ajaw, or king, of B’aakal that we know of was K’uk Balam (Quetzal Jaguar), who governed for four years starting in the year 431. After him, a king came to power, nicknamed Casper by archaeologists. The next two kings were probably Casper’s sons. Little was known about the first of these, B’utz Aj Sak Chiik, until 1994, when a tablet was found describing a ritual for the king. The first tablet mentioned his successor Ahkal Mo’ Naab I as a teenage prince, and therefore it is believed that there was a family relation between them. For unknown reasons, Akhal Mo’ Naab I had great prestige, so the kings who succeeded him were proud to be his descendants.

When Ahkal Mo’ Naab I died in 524, there was an interregnum of four years, before the following king was crowned en Toktán in 529. K’an Joy Chitam I governed for 36 years. His sons Ahkal Mo’ Naab II and K’an B’alam I were the first kings who used the title Kinich, which means “the great sun.” This word was used also by later kings. B’alam was succeeded in 583 by Yohl Ik’nal, who was supposedly his daughter. The inscriptions found in Palenque document a battle that occurred under her government in which troops from Calakmul invaded and sacked Palenque, a military feat without known precedents. These events took place in 599.

A second victory by Calakmul occurred some twelve years later, in 611, under the government of Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat, son of Yohl Iknal. In this occasion, the king of Calakmul entered Palenque in person, consolidating a significant military disaster, which was followed by an epoch of political disorder. Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat was to die in 612.

Late Classic Period

The two inner columns from the Temple of the Inscriptions

B’aakal began the Late Classic period in the throes of the disorder created by the defeats before Calakmul. The glyphic panels at the Temple of Inscriptions, which records the events at this time, relates that some fundamental annual religious ceremonies were not performed in 613, and at this point states: “Lost is the divine lady, lost is the king.” Mentions of the government at the time have not been found.

It is believed that after the death of Aj Ne’ Yohl Mat, Janaab Pakal, also called Pakal I, took power thanks to a political agreement. Janaab Pakal assumed the functions of the ajaw (king) but never was crowned. He was succeeded in 612 by his daughter, the queen Sak K’uk’, who governed for only three years until her son was old enough to rule. It is considered that the dynasty was reestablished from then on, so B’aakal retook the path of glory and splendor.

The Palace Observation Tower

The grandson of Janaab Pakal is the most famous of the Mayan kings, K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, also known as Pakal the Great. He began rule at the age of 12 years old after his mother Sak Kuk resigned as queen after three years, thus passing power on to him. Pakal the Great reigned in Palenque from 615 to 683, and his mother remained an important force for the first 25 years of his rule. She may have ruled jointly with him. Known as the favorite of the gods, he carried Palenque to new levels of splendor, in spite of having come to power when the city was at a low point. Pakal married the princess of Oktán, Lady Tzakbu Ajaw (also known as Ahpo-Hel) in 624 and had at least three children.

The Palace as seen from the courtyard.

During his government, most of the palaces and temples of Palenque were constructed the city flourished as never before, eclipsing Tikal. The central complex, known as The Palace, was enlarged and remodeled on various occasions, notably in the years 654, 661, and 668. In this structure, is a text describing how in that epoch Palenque was newly allied with Tikal, and also with Yaxchilan, and that they were able to capture the six enemy kings of the alliance. Not much more had been translated from the text.

In the Palace

After the death of Pakal in 683, his older son K’inich Kan B’alam assumed the kingship of B’aakal, who in turn was succeeded in 702 by his brother K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. The first continued the architectural and sculptural works that were begun by his father, as well as finishing the construction of the famous tomb of Pakal. Pakal’s sarcophagus, built for a very tall man, held the richest collection of jade seen in a Mayan tomb. A jade mosaic mask was placed over his face, and a suit made of jade adorned his body, with each piece hand-carved and held together by gold wire.

Furthermore, K’inich Kan B’alam I began ambitious projects, like the Group of the Crosses. Thanks to numerous works begun during his government, now we have portraits of this king, found in various sculptures. His brother succeeded him continuing with the same enthusiasm of construction and art, reconstructing and enlarging the north side of the Palace. Thanks to the reign of these three kings, B’aakal had a century of growing and splendor.

Mask of the Red Queen from the tomb found in Temple XIII.

In 711, Palenque was sacked by the realm of Toniná, and the old king K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II was taken prisoner. It is not known what the final destination of the king was, and it is presumed that he was executed in Toniná. For 10 years there was no king. Finally, K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nab’ III was crowned in 722. Although the new king belonged to the royalty, there is no reason to be sure that he was the direct inheritor direct of K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. It is believed, therefore, that this coronation was a break in the dynastic line, and probably K’inich Ahkal Nab’ arrived to power after years of maneuvering and forging political alliances. This king, his son, and grandson governed until the end of the 8th century. Little is known about this period, except that, among other events, the war with Toniná continued, where there are hieroglyphics that record a new defeat of Palenque.

Abandonment

During the 8th century, B’aakal came under increasing stress, in concert with most other Classic Mayan city-states, and there was no new elite construction in the ceremonial center sometime after 800. An agricultural population continued to live here for a few generations, then the site was abandoned and was slowly grown over by the forest. The district was very sparsely populated when the Spanish first arrived in the 1520’s. Occasionally city-state lords were women. Lady Sak Kuk ruled at Palenque for at least three years starting in 612 CE, before she passed her title to her son. However, these female rulers were accorded male attributes. Thus, these women became more masculine as they assumed roles that were typically male roles.


References

Gerardo Aldana. The Apotheosis of Janaab' Pakal: Science, History, and Religion at Classic Maya Palenque. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. (2007)

Cultura, Secretaría de Cultura. Nuevos Estudios a la Reina Roja . INAH - Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City. (2012) www.inah.gob.mx/es/boletines/1791-nuevos-estudios-a-la-reina-roja

Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz. La Reina Roja: Una Tumba Real en Palenque . Turner, Madrid. (2011)

Stanley Guenter. The Tomb of K'inich Janaab Pakal: The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque. Mesoweb Articles. www.mesoweb.com/articles/guenter/TI.pdf (2007)

Adriana Malvido. La Reina Roja: El Secreto de los Mayas en Palenque . Conaculta - INAH, Random House, Mexico City. (2006)

Carney Matheson. Palenque Research Report . Unpublished manuscript on file, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada. (2005)

Joel Skidmore. The Rulers of Palenque. Fifth Edition . Mesoweb Publications. www.mesoweb.com/palenque/resources/rulers/rulers.html (2010)

David Stuart & George Stuart. Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya . Thames & Hudson, London. (2008)

Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina. (Eds) Janaab' Pakal of Palenque: Reconstructing the Life and Death of a Maya Ruler. Chapter 7. Geographic Origin of Janaab' Pakal and the "Red Queen": Evidence from Strontium Isotopes. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. (2006)

Leonide

Retired California State University professor, former Family Nurse Practitioner, currently author and Maya researcher. My books bring ancient Maya culture and civilization to life in stories about both real historical Mayans and fictional characters. I’ve studied Maya archeology, anthropology and. Read More


History of Palenque de San Basilio

Not to be confused with the ancient and abandoned Mayan city of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, Palenque de San Basilio is a completely different type of place. It is very much alive and for a community of less than 4,000 souls it has an incredible number of achievements and firsts, including being the oldest African-American settlement in the New World. Here’s how that came about.

After Columbus stepped ashore in the New World in 1492, it didn’t take long for the Spanish to pretty well wipe out the entire native population of the Caribbean either through disease or by working them to death as slaves. Looking for an alternate supply of free labour they turned to the African slave trade which had existed as far back as Roman times. The first Africans were transported to Colombia via Cartagena in the 1520’s and the first slave revolt happened only a decade later and became a common occurrence at regular intervals for the next three hundred years. Benkos Bioho, alleged to be an African king, was brought as a slave to Cartagena in 1599 and promptly escaped into the swampy jungles surrounding the city with a number of followers. A master at eluding his Spanish pursuers, he established a palenque or fortified settlement at present day Palenque de San Basilio which soon became a safe haven for escaped slaves from the entire Caribbean coastal area of Colombia. Benkos was such a good guerrilla leader that in 1605 the Spanish signed a peace treaty which lasted for sixteen years. Then, Europeans doing what they almost always did with respect to treaties, broke it, captured Benkos and hanged him in Cartagena. Rather than cow the rest of the palenqueros, it just upped their determination to remain free and for the next seventy years they fought a continuous guerrilla war against the Spanish. Finally in 1691 the Spanish called it quits and the palenqueros have been free ever since.

One of the first things you see on entering the town is this riveting statue of Benkos Bioho removing his chains and reaching east towards Africa.

Benkos Bioho

Now think about this – the palenqueros have been living in Palenque de San Basilio for longer than any permanent English or French settlement in Canada or the U.S. It’s older than Quebec City (1608), Jamestown (1610), Plymouth (1620) and New York (1624). In that time the people have developed their own language, religion, music and economy that is culturally unique – so much so that in 2005 UNESCO listed Palenque de San Basilio as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Sadly, it is the only palenque community that has survived intact to the present day so it is truly a one of a kind destination.

Getting to Palenque de San Basilio from Cartagena is a lot easier today than it would have been for Benkos Bioho and his followers. We follow a good paved highway for most of way until turning off onto a dusty narrow road that leads to the main street of the town. After passing the statue of Benkos we stop at the small plaza and disembark where this monument proclaims 2015-2024 as the International Decade of African Decendents.

African Descendents Monument

We also promptly become the centre of attention for the many kids milling around the plaza on bikes, most of them too big for their small riders.

Boys on Bikes

What I don’t see anywhere in the town are any of the palenqueras that are found everywhere in the tourist sections of Cartagena. These are the women, originally from Palenque de San Basilio, who wear bright dresses, often in the colours of the Colombian flag, and carry insane amounts of fruit on the top of their heads. For a few Colombian pesos or about a buck, you can have your picture taken with them, but frankly, I find that a bit demeaning so I’ll settle for this picture from the entrance to the Bantu Hotel in Cartagena.

Palenquera Painting, Bantu Hotel

After a few minutes our tour leader Andres Fernandez introduces us to our local guide who will give us the history of Palenque de San Basilio and show us around. Now I should make it clear that this place is not going to win any civic beauty awards. It’s clearly a poorer community compared to any others we have visited in Colombia, except maybe Commune 13 in Medellin, and I’m not even sure that all the houses we passed had electricity or indoor plumbing.

Main Street

There are a few pigs foraging around.

Palenque Sow

And some people arriving in town by horseback.

Coming to Town by Horse

I’m not going to speculate as to why Palenque de San Basilio is devoid of many of the things that other Colombians now take for granted, but I do have to ask myself if there is a lingering ‘us vs. them’ attitude among the decision makers on who gets a paved road or a sewage treatment plant and who doesn’t. In any event, there is clearly a pride in the residents at who they are and where they came from as evidenced by this building.

I Love Being Black

We now enter our guide’s home where we all take seats in his living room as he first offers us all a morning nip of rum in a crescentia nut shell.

Have Some Rum

Alison finds it quite to her taste.

Enjoying the Rum

It is here that we are told the history of Palenque de San Basilio which I have narrated above and it is fascinating. About half the people in the town can still speak palenquero which is the only South American language that derives from a combination of Spanish and several African dialects. Also, because the original escaped slaves had spent little time in captivity, they were never forcibly converted to Catholicism and continued to practise the religions of Africa.. However, over four hundred years Christianity did mutate with these religions to form something unique to palenque communities. Counter intuitively, a death was celebrated because the deceased person’s spirit would be free and return to the African homeland while a birth was mourned as the beginning of a life of misery far away from where the person should have been born.

Andres Entranced

We then returned to the main street and continued our tour, passing this lady who was grinding rice with with a traditional wooden pestle, not for the benefit of tourists, but because that’s the way it is still done in Palenque de San Basilio.

Rice to Grind

As everywhere, little children love to be made a fuss over and are not camera shy.

Waving Girl

Another famous resident of Palenque de San Basilio is Antonio Cervantes, aka Kid Pambele, the first Colombian to ever win a world boxing title. He was world Jr. Welterweight champion, had sixteen successful title defences and ranks 50th on Ring Magazines greatest boxers of all time. This is his monument.

Kid Pambele

Our final stop in Palenque de San Basilio was at the home of a genuine living legend and one that I’m embarrassed to say I never heard of before today. Now that I know of his accomplishments, I am humbled that he agreed to meet and play for us. This is 83 year old Rafael Cassiani playing the marimbula.

Rafael Cassiani

He is the current director of Sexteto Tabala, a group that started in Palenque de San Basilio in 1930 and is now in its fourth generation. They have literally played all over the world including my native Canada which Rafael remembered as being ‘cold as hell’.

Sexteto Tabala

They play traditional instruments and have created a distinct sound. Take the time to watch this video and you’ll realize why being invited into this man’s home was perhaps the highlight of the entire trip to Colombia.

Lest you think a guy in his mid-eighties can’t get people up and dancing, look at this.

Dancing to Rafael Cassiani

We returned to our bus and as I boarded I bought some home made sweets being offered for sale and boy were they sweet! I was on a sugar high all the way back or maybe I was just contemplating what a really interesting place we had just visited. Palenque de San Basilio is unlike any place you will ever visit and I suggest getting there before the rest of the world finds out.


HISTORY OF SAN BASILIO DE PALENQUE

Many know all of Colombia, but I bet you not a magical place preserved in time called Palenque, this beautiful little town was the first to be liberated in America. Founded by maroons who freed themselves from their ties in colonial times in Colombia, its main characteristics are the language, its culture, its gastronomy and its great history.

Its history dates back to 1603 in the waters of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena, where a castaway named Domingo Benkos Biohó was able to lead an escape with a group of family and friends, the word palenque translates as that place populated by maroons or African slaves escaped during the colonial period. To date, Palenque has remained rigid due to all its characteristics, exerting a strong influence throughout the Colombian Caribbean region as an Afro-Colombian community.

In 1603 the capitulation of peace between the Maroons and the Spanish was signed. Then in 1713 the crown of Spain transmitted the royal decree officially declaring that palenque as free from slavery. Then in 2005, UNESCO declared a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Always highlighting its gastronomy, language, culture, music, social organization and medicine.

¿What can I find in Palenque?
Many tourists visit Palenque, but why? Simple, this beautiful land stopped in time enjoys its people who are very affectionate and with a great history behind. In Cartagena and all regions you can find women dressed in skirts and a scarf wrapped around their heads full of energy, joy and many colors. Offering you their products that they sell with love for the people. These women are palanqueras of heart that their sweets are super delicious, with a great catalog of varieties in flavors.

¿Is palanquera food good?
This article concludes that the food is delicious, based on the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Beijing, China. Since this beautiful palanquera gastronomy won a palanquera cookbook called ‘Kumina ri Palenge pa to paraje’, a cookbook written in San Basilio de Palenque, with many recipes from his palanquero town which had a single purpose to share their recipes with all over the world, obtaining the Oscar for gastronomy. We invite you to try those great recipes, as if to suck your fingers.

¿What language or languages ​​do palanqueros speak?
To answer this great question we have to go back to history, where Europeans took hostages from different regions. With the sole purpose of avoiding riots or escape plans since being from different regions they could not communicate, a great colonization strategy. The hostages spoke Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and the Bantu and Pingui African languages, and their palanquera language came out. This language is one of the 69 native languages ​​currently in Colombia.

¿Where is Palenque located?
Palenque is located more than 50 km from the city of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, with a population of approximately 3,5000 people. Cradle of many important Colombian characters such as Antonio Cervantes, the brothers Ricardo and Prudencio Cardona, all are world boxing champions. And prominent musicians such as Rafael Cassiani and Evaristo Márquez.
Freddypaztours cordially invites you to visit these beautiful Colombian lands and stop with her in the past to enjoy and contemplate every second of her native beauty.
Quote here your personalized excursion with the best tourism agency in Colombia.


Watch the video: Palenk