Located on the western edge of the Mayan empire within the state of Chiapas, the ancient and UNESCO protected site of Palenque is one of the most outstanding, and well-preserved archaeological sites in the region. Archaeologists estimate Palenque's initial construction at about 220BC, with the city rising to be a great power in the region by 500AD. The site spans 1780 hectares, and 1,400 buildings have
been recorded though only 10% of these have been fully explored. Today, Palenque's ruins sit within a jungle of cedar and mahogany trees, and showcase some of the finest Mayan sculpted reliefs in Mexico. Palenque is best explored in the early morning, to avoid both the crowds of visitors – which top 600,000 per year – and the humidity of tropical Chiapas. A private evening tour is also an option. Using Palenque as a base, it is also possible to visit the ruins of Yaxchilan and Bonampak in one day.

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