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Copán Ruinas; in the Footsteps of the Mayan Empire
Once a UNESCO World #Heritage Site, the city of Copán has since fallen into disarray, as the government of #Honduras doesn't have the funds to keep up the maintenance. However, the ruins are still worth a visit, as they are filled with statues, monuments, and other pieces of Mayan #culture.
It’s not difficult to see how Honduras earned its reputation of being the most dangerous country in the world. After all, the people are descendants from a long-lost civilization that performed spine-chilling human sacrifices, a harshness that reverberates through the history, the ruins and hearts of many Honduran people.
The first time I experience this is on a highway about 50 kilometres out of San Pedro Sula. We are sitting in a tinted window SUV, well on our way to Copán Ruinas, when a police officer pulls us over. “Find your passport. He needs to make sure that you’re not a hostage,” our driver says.
That I’m not a what?!
Abduction, extortion and corruption is a daily burden in this Central American country, and only a few weeks ago, a mother of two was car-napped, but luckily saved by a routine road control. This had caused an increase of checkpoints on the roughly 200km stretch to Guatemala.
Temples, Pyramids and Parrots
Eventually we hit Copán, which is just 19km from the Guatemalan border. After grabbing some lunch, we headed for the ruins at the other side of town. The Mayan site of Copán is translated to “Wooden Bridge,” but it is pronounced chu pee for “City of the Bird.” I don’t know the actual reason for this, but it might have something to do with Copán being a natural habitat for the Macaw, the national bird of Honduras. In the pre-Colombian period, it was believed to be a mediator between the gods and man.
Our guide, Gladys; a firm lady in her forties, explains that the city of Copán covers an area of 26 square kilometres and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. But today, the Honduran Government don’t have the funds for restoration of the site, so it is no longer maintained.
The city of Copán covers an area of 26 square kilometres and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980
Copán contains numerous structures, figures and hieroglyphs explaining the details of the ethnosphere in the Mayan city. The stairs on the picture above to the right has 64 steps, each one telling a story of the Mayans.
Copán contains numerous structures, figures and hieroglyphs
It took us a good two hours to walk around Copán Ruinas, and when the tour was over, we were picked up by our driver. Depending on the season, I would recommend to be there when it opens at 8am, as the place gets quite hot by mid-day.
Copán Ruins Tour, Honduras
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Getting There and Away
The town of Copán is a relaxed place with cobblestone streets and cozy restaurants and bars.
The town of Copán is a relaxed place with cobblestone streets and cozy restaurants and bars
The place is a great hang-out for a few days, and it’s easy to get there from Guatemala or San Pedro Sula. The Honduran bus company Hedman Alas has daily departures to both cities.
You could also consider taking a booked tour (like we did), which gives you more freedom, but is pricier.
Have you been to Copán Ruinas? Did you like it?