Copan – Part 1, The Ruins

The ancient Mayan city of Copan and its pueblo sit in Honduras, a few kilometers from the border of Guatemala. This site is known as the ‘Paris of the Mayan World.’ When the Mayan culture is spoken about it is immediately though of being in Mexico and Guatemala. However, the civilization was expansive and extended into Honduras.

The last time I visited the ancient city I was a child, this time I am an archaeologist and an adult. So, I now have an interest in the archaeological and historical aspects of the city.

There are ongoing archaeological digs on site but they are covered so you cannot really see what is going on.

The easiest way to get to the ruins is to take a Moto-Taxi from the town Copan Ruinas. Its about a 10 minute ride and it can be a little frightening the first time around, but they seem to know what they are doing.

The ticketing booth at the entrance is a bit confusing. There are 3 types of prices – 1. Hondurans, 2. Central Americans, 3. Everyone else (extranjeros).

Despite visiting with family that is Honduran, I fell under category 3 since I do not have a Honduran identity card. The Honduran ticket included the ruins and the museum, so I opted for a ticket like theirs. However, for extranjeros it is charged separately. This was 528 HNL (Honduran Lempira) about 22 USD. Their tickets were about 3 USD.

It is a bit of a walk to the site, so make sure you have your walking shoes. Upon arrival, you are greeted with wondrous stone structures. The site itself dates back to the Preclassic Maya period (c. 1000 BC).

The nearby town, Copan Ruinas also has ancient ties to the Mayan ruins. As it is built above a complex dating to the Classic period (c. 250-950 CE).

The Classic period was also the beginning of the downfall of the Mayan empire, where the southern centers, like Copan, were abandoned. However, the Mayan empire did not collapse, it was only a shift in power. The rest of the empire prospered and continued on for several centuries.

As the city lay abandoned and forgotten about, the jungle reclaimed it and helped with its conservation. For this reason, I am about to provide photos of the site. You can just imagine the hustle and bustle this ceremonial center once had.

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