Guide to the Mayan Ruins of Copan

by Nia Scott

Mar 8, 2019

© Vojtech Vlk | Dreamstime

Tips / Destination

The Maya civilization was a massive group of people that encompassed more than just Mexico. Many are familiar with the famous ruins found in Mexico, but other Central American countries have fantastic ruins as well. Copan was one such city of this ancient civilization. It was built between 400 and 800 A.D., but was abandoned by the people. Today the ruins are home to stone temples, altars and hieroglyphs. This lesser-known ruin has an interesting story.

It wasn’t until the excavations of 1975 Copan hit the radar of historians and archaeologists. From examining the area, explorers were able to piece together why this beautifully built structure might be abandoned. At the height of its popularity, the city was home to 25,000 people and constant droughts destroyed all crops and the land used to plant them. Thus, the residents abandoned the city and moved on for better opportunities.

The Copan Ruins are located in Western Honduras about 60 kilometers from the border of Guatemala. This location makes them the perfect stop for someone backpacking through Central America. The ruins consist of more than 4,500 structures for visitors to explore. Feel free to walk through and explore the ancient structures and hieroglyphics. For history buffs, this place is a perfect travel destination. Along with the ruins, there are some friendly neighbors around the area including monkeys, sloths and macaws.

The most famous of Copan’s monuments is the Hieroglyphic Stairway. It’s exactly 63 steps and is completely carved with the story of the royal house in Copan. It’s the longest-known text of ancient Mayan civilization.

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