Toniná is an ancient Maya city near Ocosingo in Chiapas. In its day it rivaled Palenque in power. Only discovered in the late 20th century, it provides a great opportunity to see an ancient Maya ruin without being overcrowded with tourists.
The site is medium to large, with groups of temple-pyramids set on terraces rising some 71 metres (233 ft) above a plaza, a large court for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame, and over 100 carved monuments, most dating from the 6th century through the 9th centuries AD, during the Classic period. Toniná is distinguished by its well preserved stucco sculptures and particularly by its in-the-round carved monuments, produced to an extent not seen in Mesoamerica since the end of the much earlier Olmec civilization. Toniná has one of the largest pyramids in Mexico; at 74 metres (243 ft) in height, it is taller than the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan.
Toniná was an aggressive state in the Late Classic, using warfare to develop a powerful kingdom. For much of its history, Toniná was engaged in sporadic warfare with Palenque, its greatest rival and one of the most important polities in the west of the Maya region, although Toniná eventually became the dominant city in the west.
The city is notable for having the last known Long Count date on any Maya monument, marking the end of the Classic Maya period in AD 909.
Get in edit
By car you drive from Tuxtla Gutiérrez the MEX 190 in the direction of San Cristóbal de las Casas, which is about 70 km away. About 7 km after San Cristóbal de las Casas, turn left onto the MEX 199 in the direction of Ocosingo. This city can be reached after approx. 82 km. In Ocosinco, drive south on Chiapas 218 and turn left after 1.5 km. If you keep to the left for the next 10 km, you will automatically reach the ruins.
By car from Villahermosa you first drive the MEX 186 approx. 120 km in the direction of Palenque (east). Then turn right onto MEX 199 in the direction of Palenque and Ocosinco. Follow this 145 km to Ocosinco. In Ocosinco, drive south on Chiapas 218 and turn left after 1.5 km. If you keep to the left for the next 10 km, you will automatically reach the ruins.
Get around edit
- 2 Pyramid (Pirámide).
- 3 Temple of the cosmic war (Templo de la guerra cósmica).
- 4 Ballgame (Juego de la pelota).
- 5 Museum (300 metres (980 ft) outside of the Toniná archaeological zone). The museum explains the pyramidal form of the acropolis and how it relates to Maya mythology, and displays sculptures of the city's rulers. Artefacts in the collection include stone sculptures, ceramics and artefacts sculpted from bone, shell, obsidian and flint. The pieces in the museum graphically depict the two sides of the power exercised by Toniná, on the one hand with sculptures of the city's rulers and on the other with its depictions of bound prisoners of war.
- Hike the ruins
- Visit the museum (quite nicely done)
There are a few restaurants near the ruins.
There are several acceptable hotels in Ocosingo on the main plaze. The best seems to be Hotel Central.