Two Classic Maya archaeological sites that are located close to one another are QUIRIGUA in Guatemala and COPAN in Honduras. Their history is intertwined with one another.
Copan was a pre-classic site of little significance, however, it became an important trade route center between the highlands and the Caribbean Coast after its founding in AD426, by K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo (Great-Sun First Quetzal Macaw). In the 8 th century, Copan founded Quirigua, a strategic location for trade on the shores of the Motagua River, close to the only source of the very important and desired Jade which all Maya nobles used as a symbol of kingship.
QUIRIGUA can be visited when taking a two or three day package from Guatemala City or combined with tours visiting the Caribbean and Rio Dulce area of Guatemala and Tikal.
COPAN can be visited in 1, 2 or 3-day tours from Guatemala City. 1-Day flying tours to COPAN are possible in a charter 5 or 22 seated private airplane to a private airstrip located in Guatemala only 7 miles away from Copan in Honduras. Copan also combines well with any tour of Guatemala.
COPAN has had continuous excavations for the past 14 years. The Copan River changed course over the history and has made a cut in the eastern edge of the Acropolis of the site, which allows one to see the 400-year evolution of the sites architecture. You will have a chance to enter into the inner tunnels of the Rosalia temple discovered underneath the Classic temple. The Rosalia has been proven to be the burial place of the founder K'inich Yax K'uk Mo'. The hieroglyphic stairway and the beautiful ornate stealeas in the open plaza are an artists dream. The on site museum displays a complete replica of the Rosalia temple along with fascinating steleas, panels, sculpture and figurines. In the smaller town museum many eccentric flints, incense burners and other artifacts are displayed.
The banana plantation of the Chiquita Company now completely surrounds QUIRIGUA. This small site contains a fascinating mix of art and architecture. Marvel at the lifelike steleas and the unusual zoomorphic structures. Known as the lesser site that toppled its sister city of Copan in AD738, after the spectacular ambush on Lord 18 Rabbit of Copan, whose name in Maya, Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awill, translates as the 18 images of the God K'awill. Marvel at the sudden influx of wealth that can be seen with the beautiful 3-D stelea the Quirigua ruler K'ak Tiliw
commissioned in his 60 year reign which ended in AD785. On Stelea C In Quirigua you can view one of the view living monuments which depicts the primordial acts which form the base for the calendrical rites of Classic Kingship; the creation date of 22.214.171.124.0 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u or 3114 BC.