The settlement at Copan is located not far from the borders of Honduras and Guatemala and is believed to exhibit the some of the most amazing ruins of the Mayan occupied territories. Copan achieved its greatest standing during the 5th century under the ruler the Great Lord Quetzal Macaw. The Great Lord was named after two of the most prominent birds in the area and he left a legacy of a settlement that thrived until the 12th century.
What distinguishes Copan from the other pre-Columbian ruins is that the people were not forced to leave by the Spanish. In fact, they appear to have moved before their arrival, at least two years prior to the conquistadors.
There are several theories as to why they left the civilization at Copan, however the most widely accepted belief is that they left because the land was no longer suitable for agriculture.
As for the name, no one really knows if the original settlement had one. However, during the 16th century, the Spanish decided to name it Copan.
Replica of Rosalila Temple
If you happen to travel to the site, it takes several days to walk around the ruins. There are numerous royal homes, servants quarters, religious areas, and middle class dwellings around the site. There is, however, something that lies beneath, buried by the Maya and incredibly well preserved. Under the ground lies the 6th century Rosalila Temple, with the original layers of intricate paint and design.
Like many other pre-Columbian civilizations, there are temples above the ground decorated with carved human faces. The faces are both frightening and humorous, some also taking the form of animals and birds.
Today, the macaws of Copan still inhabitat the ruins, flying around the ancient temples and ruined buildings. Sadly, however, the quetzal is rarely seen due to its endangered status.
Picture source Temple © pirate0007