The Cross Group at Palenque are the first and last set of buildings of their kind that were designed to honor the three set of gods of Palenque . The three buildings were constructed during the reign of Chan Bahlum II (A.D. 648-702) after the death of his father Pakal. The three temples have recordings on panels which depict the accession of Chan Bahlum II on hieroglyphs and iconography.
The Temple of the Sun, The Temple of the Cross, and The Temple of the Foliated Cross are constructed on their own pyramidal platforms and share the same courtyard on the lower slope of the majestic Mirador hill next to the sacred Otolum River. All three temples have the same interior dimensions. Each temple has its own inner metaphoric sanctuary or “sweatbaths” that have symbolic qualities in Maya culture. The sweatbaths carried symbolic connotations and were never used as bathhouses or ovens. The buildings were not designed to hold heat inside because of the sanctuaries large doorways. Large panels of glyphs in the back of each sanctuary have relief-carved tablets that depict scenes which have similar icons. The Cross Group temples consist of hieroglyphics and iconography that can be complex to translate because of its symbolic manipulations. However, the Alfardas texts or balustrade slabs are easier to translate. The text’s inscriptions refer to the birth of the three set of gods or Triad of Palenque during mythological times and are associated with all three temples as buildings of divine birth as well as the birth of the deity known as GI.
The Temple of the Sun is on the west side of the Cross group with its back to The Temple of the Inscriptions. The emblematic icon on the tablet in the Temple of the Sun has a shield in the center with two crossed spears on a bar which is held on the backs of two figures sitting on the floor, and two larger figures standing on smaller figures on either side of the icon. At the end of the tablet Chan Bahlum II heir-apparency rites are recorded. The Temple of the Cross is located on the north end. The tablet inside the sanctuary depicts the large profile figures with a cross in the center with a unique serpent- bird on top of the cross. At the beginning of the tablet Chan Bahlum II ancestors are recorded. The Temple of the Foliated Cross is located on the east. The tablet depicts the recording of his accession along with the two figures but this time the cross and the unique serpent- bird on top seem to be shaped as being part of a tree. All three tablets have a plot with iconographic themes with different stories. The taller figure is identified as Chan Bahlum II in the event of his accession to the throne. The limits on the meaning of iconographic images can be different because the second tallest figure on the tablets could be Chan Bahlum’s II father Pakal or the father of the three patron gods of Palenque.