Bonampak – Mayan Temples in the Selva Lacandon – Chiapas, México

Bonampak – Maya Temples in the Selva Lacandon – Amazing Temples and Pyramids
Bonampak is a very special travel destination. It is located in the Selva Lacandon, the forest of the Lacandons. It is west of the river Rio Usumacinta and around 30 km from Yaxchilan. All this is located in the lowlands of Chiapas and just beside the border to Guatemala.

Stele in Bonampak
Stele in Bonampak

Famous and Amazing Murals at Bonampak

Most amazing of Bonampak are the wall paintings, that have been detected there in the Temple of Murals. Bonampak is famous for them. These murals are unique due to their quality and scenery.

Wall Paintings in Bonampak
Wall Paintings in Bonampak

The paintings show very detailed pictures of the ancient mayan life. The interpretation of the scenes is not always clear and sometime subject of speculations. Amongst others it seems that the artists illustrated a procession of  dancing priests or musiscians, war scenes and a court of war prisoners. The Temple of Murals is the only temple in Bonampak with several rooms. The paintings date to a time around 790 AD.

Bonampak - Main Pyramid with several Temples
Bonampak – Main Pyramid with several Temples

Bonampak was founded during the early classic period before 500 AD. It seems that it was an independent city at the beginning, but lost this status after some wars again Yaxchilan. The construction of the Temple of the Murals was performed in this time of dependency. Bonampak was abandoned at the same time as Yaxchilan, during the 9th century.

Bonampak - Top of the Pyramid
Bonampak – Top of the Pyramid

The site seems to be small because just a small area in front of the main pyramid is open for public access.

A Place of Worship for the Lacandones

Until today the temples of Bonampak are used for religious purposes and worship by the indigenous Lacandones who live nearby. They manage the site and tourist information there. Not far away, the small village Lacan-Há is the center of the remaining Lacandones in this area. They have several offerings to stay over night there.

How to get to Bonampak

It’s possible to get there within 3 hours from Palenque by public transportation, but I would recommend to do this as an organized 2 or 3-day trip. Tourist offices in Palenque offer such trips and include a visit to Yaxchilan as well. From Lacan-Há it’s possible to do a jungle walk to watch the nature, to see other pyramids and a waterfall not far from that village.

A very detailed article describing the murals can be found here:

>>> Read more about the Maya sites in Chiapas and Campeche

Christian Schoen

Christian Schoen is a globetrotter, travel writer and author of the very successful travel guide "The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest". He loves to visit temples, pyramids and any kind of ancient ruins. The SLR in his hand, he can be met on adventurous hiking tours in tropical jungle landscapes - sometimes - or just somewhere in his neighbourhood, the Black Forest Mountains in Germany.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.