Copan is located in the west Honduras, near the Guatemalan border. At one time he was here with the troops of Cortes, who in 1525 went after the conquest of the state of the Aztecs from Mexico to Honduras. In 1576, among the ruins of Copan visited the Spanish chronicler Diego Garcia de Palacio, who described this Mayan cultural center - seven centuries after he was abandoned by his inhabitants. But then for long three centuries Copan plunges into total oblivion...

In 1576, among the ruins of Copan visited the Spanish chronicler Diego Garcia de Palacio, who described this Mayan cultural center

In 1839, American researchers JL Stephens and F. Cazerwood, accompanied by Indian guides, went to the village in search of abandoned cities. Their path was extremely difficult. But Stephens stubbornly led the caravan to the goal. He was extremely intrigued by rumors that somewhere in the Rio River valley, according to the Indians, there is an ancient city.

After reaching the Rio-Copan River, Stephens and Kaserywood came across a small Indian village. Here they hoped to find guides, but none of the local residents - converted to Christianity Mestizo Indians - could not take them to the ruins of the city. I had to go without escort. And their perseverance was crowned with success: cutting through the road in the thickets, the travelers suddenly came across a quadrangular stone stele adorned with intricate ornamentation. This obelisk was executed in such an artistic manner, which until now has not been met anywhere - in Europe, or in the East, let alone in America.

Behind the first stela was followed by the second, the third... In total, Stefens and Cazerwood discovered fourteen oddly decorated obelisks with sculptures, one more amazing than the other. And behind them - a huge pyramid temple! Stone steps led to the terrace, so overgrown that it was impossible to determine its dimensions... So, Copan was opened - the first of the lost Maya cities in the jungle.

Started Stephens Copan studies were continued in the 1890s and 1930-40s. As a result, numerous architectural and sculptural monuments were discovered.

The heyday of Copan falls on the 7th-8th centuries. n. e., when the city was the center of an independent political association of Maya, covering the territory of the southeast of modern Guatemala and the northeast of Honduras. In the heyday of Copan was second only to Tikal the largest Mayan city , which led to lively trade routes. Then came the extinction of the city-state.

It is not excluded that the number of inhabitants of Copan during its peak reached 200 thousand people. The city consisted of a central monumental part and 16 outlying mini-complexes - "quarters", one of which is removed from the center by as much as 11 kilometers. The center of Copan covers an area of 30 hectares. It includes the Acropolis, named so by analogy with the cities of Hellenistic time in the Mediterranean, and five adjacent areas.

Acropolis of Copan is a complex of pyramids, terraces and temples, rising to a 30-meter height and occupying an area of several hectares. Especially distinguished are three magnificent temples erected between 756 and 771 year. One of them was dedicated to Venus - Morning Star. The pyramids are well preserved until our time.

Extremely interesting is the central square of the Acropolis. On it you can see nine amazing stel monoliths and gracefully decorated altars. A huge size and magnificent decoration is allocated and one of the statues of Copan.

Perhaps the main attraction of Copan is the famous "Staircase of Hieroglyphs", leading from the square to one of the temples. At its 62 stone steps, a giant hieroglyphic inscription was extruded - over 2 thousand signs. This is the longest known inscription on the Maya territory. Next to the steps are statues of gods or priests, each about two meters high. Carved winged snakes decorate the staircase from two sides throughout its entire length.

Long hieroglyphic inscriptions were preserved in the Copan's Temple of Inscriptions. Copan was the main center for the development of Maya science, and, above all, astronomy. The flourishing of the sciences in Copan was promoted by the fact that it lasted longer than other Maya cities. There was one of the largest, if not the largest, astronomical observatory of its time. The astronomical tables found in Copan, compiled around the year 700, in accuracy in determining the duration of the year and the periods of eclipses surpass all other Mayan calculations of the solar calendar.

Even in the works of serious scientists, usually not prone to lyrics, Copan deserved a lot of the most flattering epithets. It is called "Alexandria of the Ancient Maya", "Athens of the New World". All these honorable comparisons are completely justified, and today Copan is deservedly recognized as a cultural and historical monument of world significance. The city is declared an archaeological reserve, many of its buildings have been restored.