Palenque is a Maya archeological site near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, located at 17°29′0″N, 92°2′59″W about 130 km south of Ciudad del Carmen. It is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, and bas-relief carvings the Maya produced.
The site was already long abandoned when the Spanish arrived in Chiapas. The first European to visit the ruins and publish an account was Father Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada in 1567; at the time the local Chol Maya called it Otolum meaning "Land with strong houses", de la Nada roughly translated this into Spanish to give the site the name "Palenque", meaning "fortification". (The similarity with the name of the mythical mayan hero Ixbalanque is coincidental.) Palenque also became the name for the town (Santo Domingo del Palenque) which was built over some peripheral ruins down in the valley from the main ceremonial center of the ancient city.
An ancient name for the city was Lakam Ha, which translates as "Big Water" or "Wide Water", for the numerous springs and wide cascades that are found within the site. Palenque was the capital of the important classic-age Maya city-state of B'aakal (Bone).