Copan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an archaeological playground boasting some of the best-preserved ruins of the Mayan civilization anywhere in Central America. The town where you will find the hostels is called Copán Ruinas. Located in the west of Honduras, it is only thirty minutes from the border with Guatemala, meaning that it can be explored as a day trip. The area is steeped in history, and was the capital of the kingdom between the fifth and ninth centuries.
The ruins are located a fifteen-minute walk from any of the hostels in town. The site covers more than fifty acres of ground, and features temples, altars, ball courts, and a number of plazas. Perhaps the main site is the Hieroglyphic Stairway that raises to more than thirty meters high and features more than two thousand beautifully detailed carvings outlining the history of the ancient empire. Unfortunately due to centuries of erosion, some of the significance of the hieroglyphs has been lost, but this just adds to the mystery of this eerie place. The elaborate Altar Q has carvings depicting the sixteenth and seventeenth kings of Copan and serves as a historical monument charting their ascent to power. There is a small museum in the visitors centre that features a scale model of how the site would have looked originally.
The town of Copan is small and easily manageable by foot from any of the hostels. Complete with beautiful white buildings and cobblestone streets, the main sights in the town itself are the two museums that display a number of Mayan sculptures and explanations as to their uses for religious worship. The town is very geared toward tourism, with a range of accommodation -- including Copan hostels -- available to suit all budgets.
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