This Mayan site lies about 10km into Honduras in the same general area as Quirigua so I made a two day detour over the border to see it. I got there on a succession of local minibuses; my tuk-tuk driver put me on the first and then I and my luggage were transferred by the helpful conductors onto two further buses to get to the border, which I had to walk across before picking up another local bus on the other side.
Copan was an important Mayan site and an ally of Tikal. As you will no doubt recal from the last post, it ruled Quirigua until the mid eight century when the latter captured and beheaded Copan’s ruler. Like Quirigua this site has carved stone stelae although they are somewhat smaller. Indeed there is a lot of great sculpture both in situ and relocated to the museum.
The site is a complex of plazas, temples and ball courts with a substantial number of residential buildings, which would have been occupied by the ruling class. It is neither as spread out as Copan nor are its pyramids as tall.
One major feature is the Hieroglyph Stairway: the wide stone steps up the side of a pyramid, with glyphs caved into every riser. It is the largest known Mayan inscription but sadly very worn (it is now protected by a large sloping tent) so not hugely impressive to look at.
Copan is a release site for captive bred red macaws for which there are feeding stations just by the entrance. Their colours are cartoon bright and you only realise how huge they are when they swoosh over your head cawing.
Copan has a terrific museum of sculpture found on the site, including the whole facades of buildings. It also includes a replica of a temple found buried intact within a pyramid – the result of the usual tactic of enlarging structures over time by adding another layer to the outside.
This was a difficult site to build in Lego so I thought it about time I built a ball court.
So here is one side of the court. It’s not a great model but I plead frailty as I built it while feeling wan after a bout of food poisoning.