The Maya Lands
March 2009
Temple XXVI

The Hieroglyphic Staircase is my favorite temple at Copan.  I love the energy of this temple.  I can, and have, sat in front of this temple for hours.  It feels electric.

According to the LONELY PLANET GUIDE to HONDURAS, 1st Edition, January 2007, ISBN 978-1-74059-150-8, page 152, the Hieroglyphic Staircase is Copan’s most famous monument.  King Smoke Shell (reigned 749-763) commissioned this temple.  The staircase contains 64 steps which have hieroglyphs recounting the history of the royal house [family] of Copan.  Ramps inscribed with more glyphs and reliefs border the steps.  The bottom 15 steps are in their original order, but the rest are jumbled.  The top steps had collapsed when archaeologists were uncovering the temple, and the archeologists subsequently replaced them randomly.  Stela M is probably King Smoke Shell wearing a feathered cloak.  The Mayans completed Stela M around 756 A.D.  The altar in front shows a plumed serpent with a human head emerging from its jaws.

The bottom of the Hieroglyphic Staircase, with Stela M and a zoomorph in front, at Copan
The bottom of the Hieroglyphic Staircase of Temple XXVI
Stela M and the bottom of the Hieroglyphic Staircase