Copán was once one of the most beautiful and important cities of the Maya - one of the great ancient cultures of the American continent. Over the course of 400 years, the Maya people of Copán shaped a small valley in western Honduras into a great city, building pyramids, temples, plazas, sculpting intricate statues of kings, gods, and animals, and decorating it all in beautifully colored stucco. The ceremonial center at the heart of the city housed some of the best examples of Maya architecture and art to be found anywhere, some of them reflecting the Maya people's skill at mathematics and astronomy.
Every city in the Maya world is know for being "specialized" at something. For example Tikal, in Guatemala, is known for the sheer height of its pyramids. In southern México, Palenque is known for the lavishly decorated tomb of one of its kings, Pacal. But Copán is famous for the both the quantity and quality of the carved stone sculptures that decorated plazas and temples in its ceremonial center - it is known by archaeologists as the most "artistic" of all Maya cities.
Today, the ruins of Copán is one of the richest archaeological sites to be found in the entire American continent and an increasingly popular tourist attraction. After 150 years of archaeological research, Copán is perhaps the most researched and well documented Maya site of all. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.