The fabric of Honduras has been shaped by its long history as a home to several important cultures. This includes Mesoamerican cultures such as the Maya, who were prominent before Spanish Colonisation dominated the sixteenth century along with the emergence of the gold rush. Catholicism was introduced at that time along with the now predominant Spanish language, which has led to a culture which reflects a fascinating blend of both its Spanish and indigenous heritage.
Though it became independent in 1821 and has since become a republic, the country suffers from political strife and a largely poverty-stricken population. Nonetheless, it is also known for its remarkable scenery and untouched landscapes, with historical sites punctuating the country making it well worth a visit for any history buff. Here’s our pick of 5 which are well worth a visit.
Copan, near the town of Copan Ruinas in Honduras, is an archaeological site housing the ruins of a major Maya settlement which was probably the most influential city in the south eastern area occupied by the civilisation.
Today, visitors to Copan can see its many incredible structures, which also rank highly amongst the reasons for its UNESCO status. Containing five main plazas, an acropolis, numerous temples, terraces, pyramids, and dwellings, one cannot fail to be impressed by Copan. Incredible glyphs adorn its staircases, structures, temples and altars, with depictions of animals and human faces. Worth a visit is the nearby sculpture museum which explores the Maya culture and artwork.
2. Museo Regional de Arqueología Maya
The Maya Archaeological Museum in Copan Ruinas explores the history of the Maya civilisation and particularly looks at the nearby settlement of Copan.
Exhibiting finds from the archaeological excavations of Copan, such as stelae, jade, pottery and even a tomb, the museum offers a good insight into the Maya culture and is fascinating to see, particularly in the context of also visiting Copan.
Located in the town of Trujillo, Santa Barbara Fortress was built by the Spanish in 1550 during their colonisation of Honduras. Its purpose was to protect the port and nearby coasts from raiders and pirates. Indeed, it is known as having been the site of various battles, with the most significant being in 1860 against William Walker.
The fortress was declared a National Historical Monument in 1990, and today makes for a not overly-extensive yet fascinating visit.
The capital of Honduras during the colonial period and home to a wealth of Spanish colonial architecture, Comayagua was founded in 1537. Though it is no longer one of the most important cities in Central America, between 1945 -1975 the population of the city quadrupled in size due to the high rate of population growth, and it is still home to over 100,000 people.
Today, it’s certainly worth exploring for a few days. Make sure to look out for the cathedral on the central square, which is home to the oldest clock in the Americas.
Omoa is a city which is located on a small bay coast of Honduras. Originally an indigenous town in pre-Columbian times, it was abandoned and in the XVI century was founded again by the Spaniards. It is home to an 18th century Spanish fort measuring 4,400 square metres which was built for protection from the pirates raiding the Atlantic Ocean, and later became one of the most important defences in central America.
It was briefly besieged by the British, then lay abandoned, then was used as a prison before finally being repurposed as a tourist attraction by the Honduran government. It is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the military history of the region.