Off in the western corner ofHondurasis a lost city that is now no longer lost, but an amazing place to visit.  People who love travel, history, and archaeology will be thrilled to see such a wondrous place.  Whether you are beginning your travels inGuatemalaorTegucigalpa, this is a site you won’t want to miss.

You’ll find that the number of visitors isn’t as large as to most of the other main ruin sites inSouth America, but this gives you a better chance to see them at your leisure and in a quieter setting.  That’s not to say that there aren’t any tourists at all – Copán gets its fair share of visitors every year from those looking for more ruins outside the more popular tourist areas.  The ruins are located just down the road from the little town of Copán Ruinas where you’ll find small shops that offer local delights and stone streets lined with lush palm trees.

Archaeologists believe that the original ruler of Copán came fromMexicoand began his rule in 426AD.  This rule lasted for a staggering 650 years.  You can see artist renditions of what the city may have looked like during its heyday, as well as the locations of other important points, such as the Copán River, during the time of Copán’s existence.  Over time, however, it is believed that their own success was their demise – the valley could no longer sustain the growing population of Copán.  Eventually archaeologists discovered that there was barely anything to study – no new monuments, no new artworks.  They believe that the Maya abandoned Copán and the jungle soon took back a once glorious city.

Copán was discovered many centuries later, but it wasn’t until 1838 that an expedition was led to the ruins and Copán came back to into the light for the world to see.  Today you can walk over lush grasses to clearly see the old structures.  The jungle has been carefully cut away to showcase the still-standing pieces of sculpture and architecture.  The site covers three hectares.  The highlight is the Petroglyph Staircase, which is a staircase that is crafted into a 30-meter high pyramid structure not unlike many other Mayan designs.  However, the stairs are also decorated with the story of all 16 kings that ruled Copán, and it is considered to be the longest stone-carved Mayan text to ever be found.

When you feel you’ve seen enough on-site, you can also visit the several museums that feature Copán’s sculptures and cultural items.  Stay a while in Copán to take in all the history and culture that both the city and the ruins have to offer.  It’s a place that you won’t soon forget, and because of it’s location you’re also bound to see colorful birds and can even take a boat ride if you wish.  Copán has been called theAthensof theNew World– so add a stamp to your passport and check it out today!

Enid Glasgow