Known for its numerous architectonic structures and inscriptions, Yaxchilan is located on the banks of the river Usumacinta in the municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas. Just 136 kilometers from Palenque, this ancient city ruled over smaller complexes such as Bonampak, and was allied for a long time to settlements at Piedras Negras and Tikal. Although the site is extensive, you will only be able to access a small number of buildings such as the Great Acropolis, the Small Acropolis and the Great Plaza, which, if you don't get lost along the way, gives you access to the site's maze.
This ancient jungle city records its dynastic history in the lintels of several buildings. Your task as a visitor to Yaxchilan is to spot them, following the fascinating past of this lost city as you walk. Rising over the plaza, for example, is an image of Pajaro Jaguar IV (Jaguar Bird the Fourth), Yaxchilan's most famous ancient ruler.
An impressive staircase joins the plaza with the Great Acropolis, the city's most magnificent edifice. On the staircase you'll encounter a litter of hieroglyphs depicting scenes of Pajaro Jaguar IV playing a ball game. In the lintels, you'll find a beheaded sculpture of the same leader. Legend has it that when the head of Pajaro Jaguar IV returns to its rightful place, the world will be devastated by celestial jaguars.
This sacred city that had its apogee during the classical period, at the end of 600 BC documents an important battle against Palenque around 654 AD.