Túneles Rosalila y Los Jaguares
Opened in 1999 to much fanfare, the original excavation tunnels used by archaeologists to discover the hidden gems of Copán are available for visitors to explore.
The first of these, Túnel Rosalila, brings you to the Rosalila Temple found buried under Structure 16, still with some of its original brilliant hues. Only about 25 meters of the tunnel are open to visitors. Sheltered behind Plexiglas windows to protect it from the elements and human touch, you’ll find small patches of the temple peeking out from underneath the outer layers of newer structures.
Considered by some to be the best-preserved stucco structure in the Mayan world, the carvings are surprisingly crisp. To fully appreciate the scale, magnificence, and brilliant hue of this temple, you’ll have to go to the Sculpture Museum, where it dominates the edifice and is beautifully lit from above by opaque sunlight.
The second tunnel, Túnel de los Jaguares, brings you to the Tumba Galindo beneath Structure 17 in the southern part of the East Plaza. About 95 meters of this tunnel, fully comprising 700 meters, are open to visitors. It is somewhat less dramatic than the Rosalila Tunnel, comprising burial tombs and niches for offerings, though there is also a nice macaw mask to be seen. The tomb’s discovery dates to 1834.
At $15, admission to the tunnels is a bit on the pricey side and is recommended for serious enthusiasts of archaeology but not so much for the casual visitor.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com