A Glimpse Of Copán Ruinas, Honduras


Various stelas and altars with the Great Plaza in the background

Copán Ruinas was our introduction to Honduras and turned out to be a great place to stopover for a few days of rest and sight seeing. Aside from the obvious attraction of the amazing ruins, the town itself offers several nice cafes and restaurants without feeling overly spoilt with tourism. Some of the restaurant prices are a bit steep by Honduran standards, but we found an amazing local place serving enormous baleadas and tajadas con pollo.

We arrived from the border town of El Florido with a painless border crossing and checked into the Hostal Yaxkin – a steal at only 250 Lempira for a double room in the off season (£7.90). Yaxkin also has free WiFi, use of the kitchen and complimentary cafecitos served up by a friendly Honduran mamasita in a moo-moo.

Visiting The Ruins

Copán Ruinas has a reputation up there with Tikal in terms of importance in the history of ancient Mayan culture. The known history of Copán as a city spans at least 2000 years. The more recent history is visible on the surface above ground and previous ages can be explored via the underground tunnels.

We decided against visiting the underground tunnels after realising they wanted another $15 USD each on top of the basic $15 USD entrance fee. Perhaps bicycle touring has turned us into cheapskates, but it does seem a little sneaky to charge three different admission fees for the different areas (ruins, tunnels and museums).

The Rosalila Temple

Many agree that the Rosalila Temple is the most remarkable and important structure at Copán. Archeologists discovered a previous version of the temple preserved underneath the outer layer – almost like a mummified temple within a temple, russian doll style. The previous version is so well preserved that the archeologists were able to recreate a replica which is on display at the Copán museum on site.


Beneath this surface layer of the Rosalila Temple, archeologists discovered an almost perfectly preserved previous version from 6th century AD.


An artist’s interpretation of the well preserved Rosalila temple which lies beneath the outer layer


Standing half way up the Rosalila Temple

The Hieroglyphic Staircase

This massive staircase on the north side of the Main Group contains the longest Mayan text ever discovered. Unfortunately, the entire staircase is currently sitting underneath a massive tarp, but it’s still incredibly impressive! The beautiful Stela M sits proudly at the bottom of the staircase.


Stela M at the foot of the famous Hieroglyphic Staircase, part of the Main Group at Copán. Unfortunately, the staircase is currently covered by massive protective tarp which gets in the way of viewing (and photos).

Other Interesting Features Of Copán


One of the countless interesting sculptures at Copán; I could not find any info about this guy…


…Another nameless curiosity…


The East Court of Copán Ruinas


There are some intricate sculptures higher up which escaped the erosion by the Copán river.


We found some of the trees are just as incredible as the ruins!


Another interesting tree atop ‘Mat House’ with Rosalila Temple in the background


Just a few minutes past opening time, the crowds had already arrived in the East Court.


I found the detail of these elaborate masks particularly impressive…


… and again up close…


… and from another angle.


A side view of the Mesoamerican ballcourt on the north side of the Acropolis at Copán


The north side of the Acropolis has incurred more damage over the years.


Well preserved Stela A and the Great Plaza to the left

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