Santa Rosa de Copan


In Copan we
combine a modern ambiance with a legendary past. The Mayan culture, one of the most important in America, flourished in the western part of Honduras, leaving many different costumes and traditions which can be traced to long times past.

The majority of arqueologists agree that Copan formed part of the three largest and most lavish cultural centers of the new world. The ayas developed a civilization based on a complex sociopolitical structure; at the same time they incurred, with amazing dexterity, in the fields of science, mathematics and astronomy. They also developed a writing system based on hieroglyphs, which enabled the interpretation by epigraphs of not only contribution made in this disciplines to shed light on aspects of their historic evolution.

Equally impressive is Mayas art which is evidenced in the careful planning of their ceremonial centers, their arquitecture based on the constructions of scaled graded pyramids, their sculpture, which keeps well today on their altars and historical monuments, the remains painted murals and the beauty of their work in jade, ceramic and stone.

Copan, considered by many one of the most spectacular cities of the ancient Mayas civilization, is situated in the southwestern part of the Mayas region. It flourished during the 7th century of our era and is representative today of what Athens, to the old world; the cradle of its civilization. Because of this and other reason, UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in 1980.

Exploring the ruins you see a huge complex consisting of several plazas and many temples built on various levels. This larger site, Copan, is Mayan, whereas the smaller one, Las Sepulturas, is Lenca and about a kilometer from the main one. Both sites sit in an unbelievably verdant valley bisected by the Rio Chamelecon. Forested mountains surround big tobacco farms in this valley. The sky is free of pollution and you can watch the shadows of passing clouds move along the mountains and over the tobacco fields.

The setting is pristine in its beauty and serene in its peacefulness. The jungle that surrounds Copan is lush, tall and filled with sounds of a variety of animals. One sees monkeys, colorful guacamayas (large parrots), tree sloths and peccaries, which look like very large, short-haired, fat, round guinea pigs and have gold pelts flecked with black.

The many different areas of Copan offer visitors a feast of Mayan artifacts to discover. The detail and sheer volume of carvings and stelae are impressive; 4,531 structures have been detected with 3,440 of the structures found only 24 sq km surrounding the Principal Group. The Principal Group consists of five basic areas of interest:

The Acropolis - Divided in two big plazas: the west court and east court. The west court houses temple 11 and temple 16 with altar Q set at its base. Temple 11 was built as a portal to the other world. Temple 16 sits in between the east and west court; it was built on top of a previous temple without damaging it. Altar Q depicts the 16 members of the Copan Dynasty.

The Tunnels - Archeologists have dug 4km of tunnels under the acropolis to view earlier stages of Copan civilization. Two of the tunnels are open to the public for an additional fee.

The Ball Court - The ball court is the second largest to be found in Central America.

The Hieroglyphic Stairway - The most famous of Copan's monuments, 63 steps and several thousand glyphs tell the history of the royal house of Copan and is the longest known text of ancient Mayan civilization. Unfortunately, the steps have fallen out of place leaving the exact meaning undecipherable.

The Great Plaza - The immense plaza is famous for its stelae and altars that are found scattered
around a well groomed lawn. In addition to the park, two museums contain more artifacts and information about the Mayan civilization. One museum is housed at the archaeological site, the other in the town of Copan.

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