Bonampak

Mayan Archaeology > Chiapas > Chiapas

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Colorful murals that take us back to the daily life of the Mayans 1,200 years ago.

The name Bonampak in the Mayan language means “Painted Walls” and undoubtedly, the great appeal of this archaeological area are the paintings located in the Temple of the Murals where the history of a battle, its aftermath, and the celebration of victory is displayed with astonishing realism.

It is located in the middle of the Lacandon jungle and was one of the most important cities in the late Classic period, between the years 600 and 800. Numerous buildings still remain of the great city, although only the Great Plaza and the Acropolis are open to the public.

The murals of Bonampak were discovered in 1946 and are considered as one of the greatest treasures of ancient Mexico.

The frescoes can be found in three rooms and were painted around 790 A.D. A complex technique was used to apply pigments in a water medium with lime mixed with an organic binder. The walls are covered by approximately 112 m2 of mural paintings. The murals have been interpreted in different ways; however, the most widely accepted theory is that they tell only one story, which includes the battle, its aftermath, and the celebration of victory.

The building’s dedication ceremony is described in room 1. Members of the hierarchy, who are preparing for the event, appear along the scene. In room 2 the fierce battle, which took place on 2nd august, 792 A.D., and the following presentation and torture of prisoners, are narrated. In room 3 the celebration of the battle triumph is depicted, it is dominated by the figure of Chaan Muan II, the last sovereign of Bonampak, who performs the ritual of self-sacrifice by offering his blood to the gods.

The site is surrounded by thick jungle, which provides shelter to abundant fauna, including spider and howling monkeys, anteaters, tapirs, brocket deer, jaguarondi, and, in the depths of the jungle, the sacred jaguar still abounds.

Hours
Monday through Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00
Rates
46 pesos per person. Visitors must also pay another fee charged by the Lacandona people, at the site’s entrance.
How to arrive

From Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the State Capital of Chiapas, go to Palenque via San Cristóbal de las Casas and Ocosingo. From Palenque, take Federal Highway 307 towards Frontera Corozal to San Javier (135 kilometers) and turn right towards Lacanjá-Chansayab. The site is located 13 kilometers down this road. It is important to know that the last nine kilometers are traveled on a covered walkway coated with a sub-surface material with a 10 centimeters thick hydraulic-based layer. Please note that it is not necessary to travel to Tuxtla Gutiérrez to reach the archaeological site, as it is the longest route.

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Map and address

mapa
Approximately 2 hours from Palenque -135 kilometers.