One of the best-known and impressive Mayan sites is to be found in Honduras at Copan, just outside the charming town of Copan Ruinas, close to the country's western border with Guatemala. Marvel at the spectacular carved stelae here, created with exceptional artistry in a calm and tranquil setting.

The site at Copan marked the southernmost influence of the Mayan empire. The site consists of stone temples, two large pyramids, several plazas and a ball court. The impressive stone monuments (stelae) here are the most intricate and sophisticated of any of the Mayan sites throughout Central America. The nearby museum also has a fantastic recreation of how a pyramid may have looked in its heyday.

The site is best visited either early morning or late afternoon to avoid hordes of visitors. It is therefore worth staying at least one night in the nearby charming town of Copan Ruinas which has some delightful simple hotels and guest houses hosted by friendly local owners. Although essentially there to provide for the needs of the visitors to Copan, the town of Copan Ruinas is itself one of the best-preserved and most pleasant towns in all of Honduras.

Copan can be easily visited from Guatemala City or Antigua in a couple of days as a side-trip, travelling overland via a small Mayan site called Quirigua and perhaps returning via Rio Dulce to journey north to that other spectacular Mayan site in the north of Guatemala, Tikal. Of course if you would like to combine Copan with visiting other destinations in Honduras, you can fly into San Pedro Sula to visit Copan before journeying north to La Ceiba and the Bay Islands or towards Tegucigalpa to visit the old colonial centre and the neighbouring old mining towns.

Jack Brooker

Travel Specialist

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