Ruins of Bonampak in Mexico


Nestled deep in the verdant jungles, Bonampak beckons adventurous travelers and history enthusiasts. Bonampak boasts one of the most extraordinary treasures of the ancient world – the vividly painted murals within its temples.

Bonampak offers a journey through the rich heritage of the ancient Maya.

From its expansive plazas to the mesmerizing murals, every corner of this archaeological site tells a story of a civilization that thrived amidst the jungles of Chiapas. A visit to Bonampak promises an unforgettable experience.

Bonampak’s remote location and well-preserved murals offer a unique opportunity to delve into ancient history amid breathtaking natural surroundings. Bonampak promises an unforgettable journey through time and culture.

Geography and Environment

Bonampak is strategically located near the Usumacinta River, approximately 21 km south of Yaxchilan, another Maya site. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforests, Bonampak blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings.

Best Time to Visit Bonampak

The optimal time to explore Bonampak is from November to April. During these months, rainfall is minimal, and the weather is more accommodating for walking and hiking through the jungle trails leading to the site.

History and Chronology

During its zenith from around 650 to 850, Bonampak thrived as a satellite city of Yaxchilan. It was during this period that the renowned murals were created, depicting scenes of courtly life, ceremonial rituals, and even warfare.

Rediscovery and Conservation Efforts

Bonampak captured the attention of the modern world in 1946 when it was rediscovered by Giles Healey and Mateo Bolívar, based on information from local Lacandon people.

Since then, ongoing conservation efforts have ensured the preservation of these invaluable murals, allowing visitors to witness firsthand the detailed craftsmanship and narrative richness of Maya art.

Bonampak Archaeological Zone

At the heart of Bonampak lies the Great Plaza, one of the largest in the region.

The Great Plaza measures 90 by 110 m. Surrounded by low-stepped platforms and smaller but taller structures to the north, the plaza served as a ceremonial center and a hub of political and social activity in Bonampak.

Another object – Grupo Frey sits atop a low hill and features a grand staircase leading to remnants of a once-roofed structure, now reduced to its stone foundations. This group likely served as a residential complex.

The Temple of the Murals stands on a T-shaped platform. It is famous for its intricate vivid murals. Painted in vibrant hues of blue, green, red, and yellow, these murals cover an area of 150 sq m across three rooms.

The murals unfold a narrative sequence:

  • The 1st room depicts a royal ceremony and musical performance.
  • The 2nd room portrays a battle scene with warriors and captives.
  • The 3rd room celebrates the victory with dances and rituals.

Each room is adorned with detailed glyphs and lifelike figures.

How to get to Bonampak Ruins?

The nearest towns and villages:

Lacanja Chansayab is a small village that serves as a gateway to Bonampak and is approximately 7 kilometers away. It offers basic accommodations and serves as a starting point for tours of the ruins.

Frontera Corozal is located about 20 km northwest of Bonampak. Frontera Corozal sits along the Usumacinta River and provides boat services for visitors interested in exploring the ancient Maya sites in the region.

The ruins of Bonampak are accessible via a scenic drive through the jungle from the town of Lacanjá Chansayab. The journey includes a portion by boat along the Usumacinta River, adding to the adventure.

Nearest big cities:

  • Palenque is located approximately 150 kilometers west of Bonampak.
  • Villahermosa is about 220 kilometers north of Bonampak.

Consider hiring a local guide or guided tour from Villahermosa or Palenque.

Tourist Information

  • Bonampak is open to visitors from 08:00 to 16:30 daily.
  • The entrance fee is generally modest, around 90 MXN (2024).
  • The permitted capacity is 150 people per day.

Bringing insect repellent and sunscreen is essential due to the site’s jungle environment. Guided tours are available to provide historical context and insights into the significance of Bonampak within the Maya world.

What to bring and what to wear?

Bring water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during your visit.

The tropical climate can be demanding. Shield yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Mosquito repellent is advisable due to the presence of insects, particularly during certain seasons.

Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking and climbing on uneven terrain. Lightweight, breathable clothing is ideal to stay cool and consider long sleeves and pants to protect against insects.

Respect any photography regulations to preserve the site’s integrity while capturing its beauty and historical significance. Enjoy your exploration of Bonampak Ruins, immersing yourself in its rich history and captivating surroundings!

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