Palenque, Campeche and Edzná

We rented a car from Mexico ($16 a day… it’s cheaper than taking the bus!), and we’re off for 17 days of road-trip. We originally planned it a bit longer, but we maxed up Thomas’ credit card (the only one we have left), so we had to wait a couple of days to be able to rent a car.

Mexico Itinerary

Our planned trip

Palenque

After an entire day of driving from Mexico, we arrived at the first stop of our road-trip: Palenque.

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Palenque was one of the biggest Mayan city. The city started developing in 300 AD, while the first Mayan civilization was flourishing in Guatemala and on the pacific coast. It’s apogee came between 600 and 700 AD, during the reign of King Pacal (he died at almost 100 years-old!), followed by his son Chan-Bahlum (Jaguar-Serpent).

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King Pacal in the middle and his son Chan-Bahlum on his left

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At the death of Chan-Bahlum, the city started declining and its civilization extincted at the end of the 9th century for unknown reasons.

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Only a part of the abandoned city has been cleared, the rest still being covered by the tropical vegetation. The archeological site was really stunning!

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This is El Palacio, the main building of the site, a real maze:

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The museum was also really interesting, and was the opportunity to learn more about the Mayan civilization of the “classical era”.

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This is the Mayan writing, even more complicated than hieroglyphs

Campeche

Campeche was our second stop. It used to be a Mayan city, conquered in 1540 by Francisco de Montejo, and became the only port of Yucatán until the 18th century, from which was departing the precious wood, the gold and silver coming from all over the country. Therefore, it became a target of predilection for the pirates of the Caribbean, who sacked the city on regular basis.

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It is the only fortified city of Mexico, even if today only a fragment of its walls is remaining. The beautiful historic center and its colonial houses are part of the Unesco world heritage.

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Campeche was a nice and relaxing stop that allowed us to explore the numerous Mayan ruins of the region.

Edzná

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Edzná was the capital of the Itzáes branch of the Mayans, and was at its apogee between 600 and 900 AD. It’s inhabitants were mainly farmers and had developed a system of recuperation of the rain water and a irrigation canals network.

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The most impressive monument of the site: Edificio de los Cinco Pisos, high of 31 meters

We still have a few big Mayan sites to discover in Yucatán, which will be our next stops!

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