Copán Archaeological Site
The Mayan site of Copán, just 13 kilometers across the border in Honduras, features some of the Mayan world’s greatest artistic treasures, including numerous stelae and a hieroglyphic stairway that is the longest known Mayan inscription.
Whereas Tikal has been likened to the Manhattan of Mayan cities for its grand scale and a population once thought to have numbered 100,000, Copán is likened to Paris for the exquisite quality of its artwork, unmatched in the Mayan world. It is thought to have harbored 25,000 inhabitants in its heyday.
Archaeologists are still busy excavating and restoring this site in addition to deciphering the jumbled mess of a hieroglyphic stairway (found tumbled and out of order). In recent years, they have undertaken the ambitious enterprise of digging tunnels beneath existing structures to uncover previous constructions.
Among the magnificent finds are the well-preserved Rosalila (Rose-lilac) Temple and the tombs of several of Copán’s rulers. You can see a wonderful reconstruction of the temple in all its Technicolor glory at Copán’s excellent Sculpture Museum, in addition to several of the original finely carved stelae and monuments found in situ.
In addition to the ruins, the nearby town of Copán Ruinas has become increasingly popular as a destination unto itself for its excellent restaurants and accommodations. From here, you can explore the ruins and the surrounding countryside with ease.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com