The name “Bonampak” translates to “painted walls,” which could not be a more fitting title for this Mayan site in Chiapas.
The main structure of the archaeological site is quite literally splashed with vibrant, colorful murals. In fact, these are the most well-preserved murals in the entire Mayan world.
Founded around AD 580, the city used the Usumacinta River to trade with other famous Mayan cities like Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras.
Bonampak remains slightly off the tourist trail because it’s a bit of a hike to get to. The site is about 2.5 hours from Palenque down a narrow road through the jungle.
But visitors are rewarded with a relatively intimate experience surrounded by stunning visuals. The murals tell stories of Mayan customs, from celebrations and sacrifice to music and war.
The paintings themselves date back more than 1,000 years and are heavily protected, but visitors can still see them from a ramp inside the doorway.