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.
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.