Santa Rosa de Copan




Copan Museum

In August 1996, the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History together with the Honduran Institute of tourism and their information office, hosted the grand opening of the long awaited COPAN MUSEUM. This fully enclosed structure is the first of its kind in Central America, and a model to other nations with similar treasures of such magnitude to follow. Copan makes part of the Maya lands, both ancient and modern, occupy the Yucatan Peninsula, whose topography varies from volcanic mountains, called the Highlands the south, to the porous limestone shelf, called the Lowlands, in the central and northern regions. The lowlands extend from Copan, Honduras, in the south to northern Yucatan. The east-west axis includes Belize, most of modern Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Tabasco, where Comalcalco, the westernmost Classic-period Maya center is located.
Few sites of the Classic period are located at any significant altitude. Among the highest are Caracol, Belize; Chinkultik, Chiapas; and COPAN in Honduras. The Maya, builders of one of the most fascinating civilizations in the history of the world, are not just an archaeological race. There are over two million people who will speak one or more than thirty languages living still today in these areas. To further understand their structures and Temples you must first learn of their practices and beliefs. The ancient Maya were described as worshippers of time, involved totally with abstractions. They were a peace loving , religious, modest, conservative and clean about their person! Nameless and faceless to modern man , the Classic Maya dwelt during times of peace. Contact between ceremonial centers was limited to conf... [ Read all ]

Permanent Collection

Like great cities today, each ancient Maya metropolis had its own particular character and style. Tikal is celebrated for its very tall temple-pyramids; Palenque is renowned for its limestone and stucco relief panel. Copan is unique in the Mayan realm for its emphasis on sculpture, since it was home to the most carved commemorative stelae and altars, many complex stone and stucco sculptures decorating the buildings, and the monumental Hieroglyphic Stairway which has the longest inscribed test of the Pre-Columbian New World.

The Copan Sculpture Museum, built by the Government of Honduras, is designed to give you, the visitor a sense of how the ancient Maya viewed their world, and recorded its most important aspects in architectural and free-standing sculpture. The Museum presents the most beautiful and informative sculptures to the pubic, while at the same time preserving them in an enclosed environment that will insure that they can be admired and pondered for centuries to come. Built by the Government of Honduras, its conception derives from the sculpture conservation and study program begun in the mid-l98O's and continuing to the present under the admirable offices of the INSTITUTO HONDURE√ĎO DE ANTROPOLOGIA E HISTORIA (IHAH).


The Museum building was planned to reflect the central concepts of the Maya world view. The entrance is a stylized mouth of a mythical serpent, symbolizing a portal from one world to the next. As you proceed through the tunnel you have a senence entering another place and time. The entrance also evokes the tunnels that archaeologists dig to reveal the earlier constructions buried inside the pyramidal bases of ancient Maya buildings.

Aligned with the compass points, the four-sided building reflects the horizontal order of the ancient Maya world, to which the four cardinal directions and the yearly path of the sun were fundamental. Four was the number associated with both the sun God and the perimeters of a milpa. In addition to the horizontal directions, the Maya envisioned an axis through a center point connecting the human plane to the supernatural worlds above and below. This vertical axis is also reflected in the museum. Images of deities and denizens of the underworld appear on the first floor.

On the second floor, the world of the living is represented by pieces from eighteen different buildings, including seven complete facades. These illuminate a series of important themes in the lives of Copan's ancient inhabitants: agriculture, and fertility, the ballgame, mountain deities, ritual sacrifice, warfare and the ruler as paramount warrior, the role of the scribe, the patron of sculptors, the royal residence and shrines, residences of the nobility, the role of nobles in the collapse of the kings divine authority, and the council house where the ruler convened with the representatives of the people. The second floor also, presents celestial deities, including ...+ [ Read all ]

Exhibitions (3)

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News and events

Copan Ruins are located in the western part of Republic of Honduras, Central America in the Department of Copan. The capital of this Department is the city of Santa Rosa de Copan, formerly known as "Los Llanos". Copan is the archeological city located south of the whole geographic area, and it is where the great Mayan Civilization developed and flourished. (The area is 325,000 square kilometers and comprises the southeastern part of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and part of El Salvador). San Jose de Copan, situated one kilometer from the principal group of ruins in this archeological zone, is a modern town which was founded during the last century and at present is called “COPAN RUINS