The open area until 2005 covers 2.5 square kilometers, but it is estimated that less than 2% of the total area has been explored. In 1981, Palenque was designated “National Park” and declared by UNESCO "World Heritage" in 1987.
At the time of the Conquest of Mexico, in the sixteenth century, the city was already abandoned. The first European to visit Palenque was Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada in 1567. At that time the region was known by Chol people as “Otolum” that means “Land of Strong Houses”; so from nothing, it was translated as "Palenque" (Catalan word "PALENC") meaning “fortification”.
It is believed that Mayans founded this city, also known as: Lakam Ha "Place of Great Waters" (lots of water) during the Formative period (2500-300 B. C).
The population grew during the early Classic period (200-600 AD), to be a city, becoming the capital of the region of B'akaal "bone", including in the area of Chiapas and Tabasco, in the late Classic period (600-900 AD). The oldest structure that has been discovered was built around 600.
B'akaal was an important center of Mayan civilization in the V and IX centuries, during which it alternated periods of glory and disaster, alliances and wars. On more than one occasion made alliances with Tikal, the other great Mayan city of the time.
Bakaal rulers claimed that the origin of their lineage came from the distant past, even boasting that they came from prehistoric times, and arriving to the creation of the present world, which in Mayan mythology, it was in the year 3114 B.C.