Honduras Ruins: The Spectacular Ancient Mayan City of Copan
An abandoned Mayan city found in western Honduras, Copan is a beautiful ancient site known for its mysterious temple ruins, hieroglyphs, and intricate stone statues. It was first discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio, a Spanish explorer, and auditor of Guatemala in 1576. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century when the site was first excavated.
According to studies, the city was built around 400 A.D and abandoned around 800 A.D. Citadel ruins also reveal that the area had three main stages of development before it was suddenly abandoned. Although there is no concrete evidence for the cause of the city’s fall, experts believe that it had something to do with the Mayan’s decreasing food source and its growing population.
History and Origins
The Mayan civilization found in Copan was ruled by 16 kings from A.D 426 to 820. Its ancient name is “Oxwitix” and had an official emblem in the shape of a bat. Based on archaeological findings, the city has been rebuilt and remodeled continuously over the span of 400 years.
Since the site was located in the southeastern part of the Mayan civilization, it was mostly safe from the raging wars that destroyed its larger and more hostile neighboring cities. Because life was simple and uneventful, it was also the most densely populated Mayan city.
Yax Pasah, was the last king of Copan when the city fell to its doom. The end of his dynasty was believed to be around A.D. 822, with reasons scholars still debate up to this day.
Exploring The Ruins
The Mayan City of Copan is one of the most impressive Mayan cities on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It has more than 4,500 structures with a central area that covers around 2 square kilometers of the site.
The ruins of Copan are widely known for its stone monuments and overlapping step-pyramids which are placed along the central plaza of the city. The central area (also called “The Principal Group”) resembles a huge complex with several plazas. From here, several secondary complexes encircle it. Temples, Mayan stelaes (unique sculptural monuments), and hieroglyphic patterns are numerously scattered in the vicinity. There are ceremonial structures which consist of huge stadiums that open to a mound with altars and monuments. The ruins are divided into various groups based on the structures in the area. Under the ruins, there’s a 4km tunnel where tombs, baths, and other small structures can be seen.
How To Get There
Copan is found in the western part of Honduras, near the border of Guatemala. The trail to the ruins consists of a 1km walk from the central park. You can also ride on local transport buses. There are two different buses to Copan, the first one with multi-stops, and the other one that directly travels to the ruins. You may want to choose the latter if you want to get to the ruins much faster.
Have you ever been to Copan? What other Mayan ruins have you visited before? Let us know in the comments below.