The North Group adjoins to the north-east of Count's Temple. Among this group Temples II, III, IV and V were built between AD 695-730.
It is located little more than one hundred meters to the north of the Palace after pass through the Ballgame and is part of the central zone of the city. It is conformed by one long platform that maintains five temples. The porches of all buildings watch towards south.
The buildings have been numbered from east to west I to the V. Temples I and III are made up of a single crujilla of small dimensions, the II and IV are two parallel crujillas buildings with a porch of three entrances, temple V is longest of all and displays five entrances.
We were given a half-day sightseeing. This is certainly not enough to see all the sights. So, I have not seen the House of Jaguar, the Temples XVIII and XVIIIa.
You can watch my photo of Palenque on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 17° 29' 6.15" N 92° 2' 41.67" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio Temple X.
You can watch my photo of Palenque on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 17° 29' 8.21" N 92° 2' 43.83" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio North Group.
The Temple of the Count was constructed between ad 640 and 650.
It is the oldest building yet excavated.
Typical of the Palenque style are the two parallel passageways, the rear one divided into three chambers.
The "mansard effect", created by the sloping outer walls, is apparent here for the first time. These follow the inner arches which slope in parallel.
The buildings of Palenque were also often used as burial places; three tombs with burial objects such as jade beads, obsidian knives and shell jewellery were discovered under the floor of the Temple of the Count.
This Court owes its name to the fact that Frederic de Walbeck once lived here.
It is bounded by the North Group from the North, the Temple of the Count from the West and the Ball Court from the South.
The Ball Court is one of the oldest structures at Palenque and one of the oldest in the Maya World. It's dated around 500 A .D. +- 50 years and it is the only ball court in Palenque.
You can watch my 3 min 27 sec about Palenque Video Palenque part 3 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
The Temple XIV is located north of the Temple of the Sun. It was probably constructed after the death of Chan-bahlam by his brother and successor Kan-zul ("valuable animal", also called Hok; ruled ad 702-722?).
The bas-relief dated AD 705 shows Chan-bahlum's resurrection from the underworld Xibalba and the homage being paid by his mother Apo-hel.
It is assumed that this building was created to appease the menacing spirit of the dead ruler, who had the neighboring temples of the Sun, Cross and Foliated Cross built in his honor.
The Temple of the Sun is an essential part of the Cross Group.
It is located on the west side of the Stephens’s plaza, with the best preserved roof comb at Palenque.
Carvings inside commemorate the accession to the throne -in 684 AD- of Kan Balam , born in 635 AD. He is shown facing his father.
This temple has a roof comb in very good conditions and has three entrances. The base of this Pyramid was built in four stages. In the Sanctuary is a bas relief. It depicts Pakal as a departed, now living with the Gods, and his son Kan Balam. Others believe its meaning to be a rite of passage for Kan Balam, first appearing as a child and then as an adult man. Palanquin is held by two Gods.
Having finished with the Temple of the Cross you must climb the pyramid of the Temple of the Foliated Cross.
As the other buildings in the Cross Group, the Temple of the Foliated Cross, is a tall narrow pyramid surmounted by a temple with an elaborate stone roof comb.
It contains a carved panel representing sacred rites. There is a Cross on the panel it contains, equally important to the Maya as the symbol is in the Christian faith.
In the Maya Cosmological Order it represents the place where the heavens and the Underworld meet with the land of the living! The front half of the building is lost so the corbelled arches and keyholes are completely exposed, revealing how the architects at Palenque designed these buildings.
A well preserved inscribed tablet shows a king, probably Pakal, with a sun shield emblazoned on his chest, corn growing from his shoulder blades and a sacred quetzal bird on his head.
The Temple of the Cross is the largest and most significant pyramid within a complex of temples at the Maya ruins of Palenque.
It is located in the south-east corner of the site and consists of three main structures, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Temple of the Foliated Cross.
The temple is a step pyramid containing bas-relief carvings inside. The temple was constructed to commemorate the rise of Chan Bahlum II to the throne after the death of Pacal the Great. The bas-relief carvings reveal Chan Bahlum receiving the great gift from his predecessor.
The cross motif found at the complex allude to the names given to the temples, but in reality the cross is a representation to the World Tree that can be found in the center of the world according to Mayan mythology.
The Stephens’s Plaza is bounded by the Cross Group which is formed by the Temple of the Sun from the West, the Temple of Cross from the North and the Temple of the Foliated Cross from the East. They were built on natural hills, on the north sides, east and west of the Plaza respectively.
The buildings are formed by pyramidal basements, finished by spacious temples of double vaults at the top, in whose interiors are independent sanctuaries found, that house extraordinary sculpted limestone tablets with elaborate iconography depicting scenes from the cosmos, while containing extensive texts in Maya hieroglyphs.
You can watch my 4 min 17 sec about Palenque Video Palenque part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Having finished with the Grand Palace you should go to the Maudslay’s Plaza which is bounded by the Grand Palace (from the North), the Temple of the Inscriptions (from the West), the Otulum River (from the East) and the hill with the Temple of Jaguar (from the South).
You will find wonderful stucco masks on the South wall of the Palace that is viewing the Maudslay’s Plaza.
Most Maya sites had a problem with water storage.
Palenque had enough water, however. The watercourses that run through Palenque -generally in a northern direction- flow from the mountains. There are 9 separated watercourses which run through the site.
The Otulum River runs through the center of Palenque. The river springs from the mountains. In the center the city the Maya build a canal to harness this river's course. This channel is 2 meters deep and 1.5 meters wide. The first 125 meters the water flows openly. Beyond that point the Maya build a vault above the river, for a stretch of 55 meters . So, they made a land bridge. This aqueduct is the largest at Palenque.
You may cross over the aqueduct and straight ahead you come to the stairs that will take you up to the Cross Group.
The Palace 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.
House D has several pillars decorated with stucco reliefs. The stucco tablet decorating one of those pillars shows the main character performing a dance, holding an axe and a supernatural snake.
The Palace has wonderful Corbel arches built in arch-like construction method that uses the architectural technique of corbeling to span a space or void in a structure, such as an entranceway in a wall or as the span of a bridge. A corbel vault uses this technique to support the superstructure of a building's roof.
In the Palace you will find painted walls, and decorations made from stucco or on stone slabs. You can explore the building's secretly interconnected passageways, and make great pictures of the tunnels.
Watching such arches in Egypt and Greece every time I admired the ability of ancient civilizations to solve complex construction problems.
The four-storeyed 15 m -tall tower is the landmark of the site. It rests on an almost square base and was probably used as an observatory, is unique in ancient Indian architecture. Its top floor was reconstructed only in 1930.
The square tower is quite unique and no one knows exactly what its purpose was...
No other Maya site has a similar structure. Perhaps it was an outpost to look into the distance or an astronomical observatory. However, it is bizarre that the narrow stairway that winds up inside to the top starts only at the second level.
Unfortunately tourists aren’t allowed to climb it!
Having finished with the East and West patios you may enter the Central Patio.
The first buildings date from the Early Classic period, called subterraneos, and built on a 3 mts high platform. When exploring the building do not forget to take pictures in the subterranean. These buildings were the base for new constructions. They were built in this order E, J, K, B, C, A, D, A-D, Tower, Toilets, H, G, I, F and L. The following rulers continued building structures on the platform, thus reducing the interior patios.
You can watch my photo of Palenque on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 17° 29' 2.03" N 92° 2' 46.83" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio Palace Patio of the Tower.
Another interesting patio is the West Courtyard, which is enclosed by building D, C, E and the Tower.
Building D, which has two passages running in parallel, is situated on the west staircase on the left. On the outside there are five doors, the columns of which are decorated with impressive but partly very badly damaged reliefs.
These depict, among other things, what are assumed to be a rite of consecration and the dancing ruler Pakal with his wife or mother. The inner side of Building D is bordered by the west courtyard.
Building E is reached from the tower courtyard. Its passages and rooms exhibit typical Mayan corbelled vaulting. An oval tablet found here is decorated with a relief of two seated figures, one of whom is handing a headdress to the other, who is seated higher on a double-headed jaguar throne.
From the glyphs above it can be inferred that this represents the ruler Zac-kuk and her son Pakal at his accession in AD 615. It is remarkable that Zac-kuk is mainly portrayed with her fingers and parts of her head diseased and swollen while Pakal has a club-foot.