Tonina – House of the Big Stones – Chiapas – Mexico

From a distance, Tonina seems to be one of highest Maya pyramids you have ever seen. The huge building rises up to a height of 71 m (233ft) above the place in front of it. Several remains of temple buildings are located on the seven levels that create it’s basic structure.

In fact, it is a mountain, that was covered by processed stones to build up this enormous structure.

The town was inhabited between 400 AC and 900 AC and belongs to the classiacal period. Inscriptions that were found, talk about several wars  Tonina was involved in. It seems that Tonina’s political standard behavior was aggressive.

Tonina - the pyramid from a distance - Chiapas - Mexiko

Tonina – the pyramid from a distance – Chiapas – Mexiko

During a war against the neighbouring Palenque, this town was conquered and their ruler K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. was captured. This happened in 711 AC. But finally, their aggression didn’t help them to survive. Short after 900 AC Tonina was abandoned and it’s inhabitants disappeared.

Look from the pyramid of Tonina to the valley of Ocosingo – Chiapas

Look from the pyramid of Tonina to the valley of Ocosingo – Chiapas

Many stucco reliefes, wall paintings and sculptures have been found. They can be visited on site or in the small, but very interesting museum beside the entry. Interesting is, that in Tonina the last calendar inscription of the classical period was found. It dates back to the year 909 AD.

The ball court - Temples of the World - amazingtemples.com

The ball court – Temples of the World – amazingtemples.com

The name of Tonina means “house of stones” in the language of the local Maya who speak the dialect Tzeltal. The original name might have been “Popo”.

Tillandsia on a tree - Tonina - Chiapas

Tillandsia on a tree – Tonina – Chiapas

Tonina is abut 30 minutes by car from Ocosingo away. This town, half way between San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque  is inhabited by indigenious people. From the bus station you can take a taxi to the central market. The market is very colorful and it makes sense to buy some food like tamales from one of the friendly market women. From the market there are collectivos going up the valley. Sometimes they are open pickups, what makes the drive very exotic.

Restoration work of a wall painting in Tonina - Chiapas

Restoration work of a wall painting in Tonina – Chiapas

Don’t forget to bring water with you. It took me one hour and 1.5 l water until I reached the top of the building. No shadow anywhere !

Tamales - Chiapas

Tamales – Chiapas

From the top you will have an amazing view down to the Ocosingo valley and to the surrounding highland of Chiapas.

Map of Tonina

Map of Tonina

Wikipedia:

Tonina: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonin%C3%A1

READ  The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest - 2nd Edition

Ocosingo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocosingo

All photos were taken in July 2012, by me.

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Christian Schoen

Christian Schoen is a globetrotter, travel writer and author of the very successful travel guide "Die Ruinenstädte der Maya", published in Germany. 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.

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1 Response

  1. 2014/04/10

    […] Tonina – House of the Big Stones – Chiapas – Mexico […]

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