Archaeologist Sylvanus Morley called the ruins at Copán the "Athens of the New World." So, beyond a doubt, this was the perfect place for me and Elise to pick up our world travels together. :)
Elise, best best best best friend and travel buddy from our semester abroad in Athens, Greece a few years back, is here in Central America on an adventure-vacation with friends Kate and Alice! We met up for dinner and catching up in Antigua last Wednesday when they arrived, and then I worked Thursday and Friday while they journeyed up to lovely Lake Atitlan.On Saturday, we met up again in Antigua and headed to Copán!
The ruins of Copán are located outside the town of Copán Ruinas (I guess that makes sense, yet slightly confusing), which is right across the Guatemalan border into Honduras. It's the only Mayan part of the country of Honduras, which actually gives it much more in common with neighbor Guatemala, a country distinguished by its Mayan culture. Copán is so close to the border, that if you're only visiting the ruins and not going any farther into Honduras, they don't even bother to stamp your passport. Nope, instead I now have a "You just visited the ruins of Copán in Honduras" stamp en mi pasaporte. Cool.
Though my trip to Copán was a quick one (arrived around 8 p.m. Saturday night, left at noon on Sunday -- Elise, good thing I love you!), Elise, Kate, Alice, and I loved the ruins. After visiting Tikal last month with my dad, I'd wondered if I was going to be a "seen one, ya seen 'em all" kind of girl when it comes to ancient ruins. Uh uh, folks. Copán was amazing!
Where Tikal's structures are gigantic and invoke power, Copán is smaller, detailed, and intellectual. If Copán was a gal pal, she'd be one smart cookie -- flying under the radar. Copán's ruins have more stelae and altars than any Mayan site in Central America, and the huge staircase in the main plaza is inscribed with the longest piece of hieroglyphic writing in the New World. Very very cool.
From the Old World Athens to the New World Athens...
Copán sort of looks like Kentucky.
Alice makes friends with the macaws as we enter.
Diagram of the Mayan world
Some of the original color on the stone.
The pieces of the staircase form the longest inscribed text in all of the Americas.
So glad you visited!