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Copan

City of Maya Art

Known today as Copan, the capital of the Maya kingdom of Xukpi (shuk-pi) contains some of the finest art of ancient Mesoamerica; no other site has more hieroglyphic inscriptions and stone monuments. Examples include massive portrait stelae, a 63-step hieroglyphic staircase and intricate altars. Other highlights include the second largest ballcourt in Central America and the richly detailed Temple of Inscriptions. Two tunnels—Rosalila and Jaguar—lead to subterranean tombs and a series of temples nested within each other.

Copan flourished from the 2nd to the 8th centuries, although the site may have been inhabited as early at 3400 BC. By the time the Spanish arrived, the site was long abandoned to the meandering Copan River and encroaching jungle. The first excavations began in the late 19th century.

Today, the site is home to Scarlet Macaws and other colorful birds. A nature trail leads to the Museum of Sculpture, which contains stone and pottery artifacts and encloses a true-scale reproduction of the Rosalila temple.

One of the best aviaries in Central America is located nearby—home to scores of Buffon's Macaws, parrots and Keel-billed Toucans. Visitors to this area can also ride horses, tour a coffee farms and a butterfly garden, or enjoy soothing hot springs. Birdwatching is another popular activity; nearly 400 avian species have been identified in this region, including Blue-crowned Motmots, Montezuma Oropendolas and White-fronted Parrots.

Copan is located in the temperate highlands of western Honduras. Temperatures are generally comfortable year-round. The dry season usually lasts from December to May. The green season (June to November) is characterized by clear mornings and afternoon showers. Accommodations are available in the town of Copan Ruinas and at charming haciendas a few miles away.

Copan lies approximately three hours southwest of San Pedro Sula and approximately five hours east of Guatemala City. Copan's former rival, Quirigua, is located 108 miles (approximately three hours) to the northwest in Guatemala.

 

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in the Copan region and throughout Honduras. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, helicopter charter flights, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

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Pearl S. Buck