40 years ago, the Maya Archaeological Park at Copan Ruinas was awarded the status of World Heritage Site. This is the first and only UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in Honduras! It is easy to see why Copan Ruinas is a World Heritage Site in Honduras. The site is truly spectacular. I am happy to say that the Copan Archaeological Park today is even better than it was when I first visited it 27 years ago. Being a Mexican citizen, I visited many Archaeological Parks before. To me it is a passion to visit these magnificent ancient cities and imagine how life must have been at their peak. My first visit was love at first sight! I simply do not tire of visiting again and again. The site has a unique sense of place that magical. The other UNESCO World Heritage site in Honduras is the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve.
Copan Ruinas has many reasons to visit it, and I will try to do justice and give you the most important ones.
First, it is the most studied Mayan Archaeological site. Yes, we know more about the Ancient Maya of Copan than we know about there rivals throughout the Mayan World. The main reason for this is that the sculptors in Copan had mastered the art of sculpting rock. There, they imprinted many different glyphs that were to tell the world the story of their kingdom. For many years, the Maya glyphs were not much more that gibberish. But then a group of Mayan scholars and epigraphists, led by Linda Schele broke the code, and before we knew it, we were reading about the history of these magnificent people. Today we know that Kinich Ahau Yax Kuk Mo founded Copan in the fifth century. We know that Copan had 16 rulers. We know of wars with other Maya city states. In short, there is story about the people that built this city!
Second is the fact that the Archaeological Park is next to a quaint Colonial style village with cobblestone streets and tile roofs. Not only are there many different hotels to choose from in town. There are many nice restaurants, café’s, and bars where you can meet people from around the world. Honduran citizens are some of the friendliest in the world, and you will enjoy interacting with the friendly copanecos. Copan is a small city but offers a huge charm. Boutique hotels and backpacker hostels offer a variety of lodging options. Regardless of your budget, you will find a hotel that is the perfect fit for your needs.
Third: Copan Ruinas is easy to get to. If you are traveling through Central America, you will find that the El Florido border offers easy access from Guatemala. Alternatively, you can fly into San Pedro Sula and take the highway to Copan Ruinas. Copan is only 160 kilometers (100 miles) from San Pedro Sula. The new highway between La Entrada de Copan and Copan Ruinas is a pleasure to drive. Its an easy drive if you like to rent a car and drive yourself. The Hedman Alas bus company also offers service from San Pedro Sula to Copan Ruinas. Finally, there are many tour operators that can provide the service between both cities.
Copan Ruinas, Home to the Sacred Valley of Scarlet Macaws.
Fourth: One of the things we know about the people that originally inhabited this city is that they were bird lovers. Beautiful macaw heads sculpted from rock decorate the artistic ball court in Copan. This brings me to another reason why Copan Ruinas is a World Heritage site in Honduras. The lovely scarlet macaws that fly the skies over this magnificent archaeological park. Strolling into the park as a flock of Scarlet Macaws flies a few feet over your head is indescribable. I get goose bumps all over every time I walk into the park. This magnificent bird adds a natural touch to this World Heritage site in Honduras that takes your experience to another level.
As you can see, not only is Copan Ruinas is a World Heritage Site in Honduras, it also offers a unique travel experience that you will cherish for many years. As for me, I am counting the days to get a chance to visit the Copan Archaeological Park as soon as I can. Who knows, perhaps we might even see each other there!