Elevation: 1,965 m/6,446 ft
Chichicastenango, Guatemala Vacation Guide
Chichicastenango is one of the most important towns in Guatemala since it treasures a lot of Mayan culture, history and traditions. It is the home of the Quiché civilization (largest group of Mayan population). Back in the days it was one of the largest trading centers in the Maya area. It was here in this mystic place where the original Popol Vuh was found. The discovery of this Mayan advisory book meant a big breakthrough on understanding Mayan history. The book narrates the origin of the world, humanity and natural hazards from the mystic perspective of the Maya civilization.
Sitting on the crest of a mountaintop, "Chichi" will give you the opportunity to visit its colorful market, which is one of the biggest in the country. The development of tourism in this town seeks to promote Quiché's cultural and religious attributes, giving you plenty of options to explore this mystic town in southern Guatemala.
Attractions and Activities
Chichicastenango is one of the most traditional places in Guatemala. The town was able to conserve its indigenous authenticity and this will give you the opportunity to experience its religious rituals, practiced almost on a daily basis. Chichicastenango is also well known for its wood artwork, typical fabrics, musical instruments, masks, candles, flowers and jewelry.
On your way to this mystic area of the country, you will find yourself surrounded by wide forests on both sides of the highway. The climate is chilly because of its altitude. Local people from this region are very loyal to their culture which makes this experience one of the purest of your visit to Guatemala and giving you the real essence of the Maya civilization.
Excursions from Chichicastenango to other destinations near by
Tecpan is located on the highway on your way to Chichicastenango or Lake Atitlan. Known as Guatemala's gastronomy route, this place will offer you lots of places with local food and nature. Tecpan is perfect to pause in the middle of your journey between Guatemala City/Antigua and Chichicastenango.
This famous lake is one of the most beautiful destinations in Guatemala and you can easily reach it from Chichicastenango. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by more than a dozen villages and is a natural beauty you don't want to miss. Every town and village has its own signature and clothing style dependent on their own traditions and language.
Shopping in Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango hosts one of the biggest markets in Central America. You will find yourself surrounded by every type of handicrafts, fruits and vegetables, flowers and many other goods. Chichi's market is widely known and is the main attraction of Chichicastenango.
Architectonical treasures and Ritual places
Iglesia Santo Tomas
This 400 year old church is a representation of the colonial architecture. It is the main place where Mayan prayer leaders practice their rituals. Especially on Sundays, these "priests" burn incense and devote themselves to their ancestors. The 18 steps that lead you up to the entrance, stands for each month of the year of the Mayan calendar.
Iglesia de la Capilla del Calvario del Senor Sepultado
Built in 1540 on the top of some archaeological rests of a Pre-Hispanic temple, is a smaller version of Iglesia Santo Tomas. These two churches represents the entrance to the over and underworld creating a bound with the spirits of its ancestors. Don't miss this unique vibe that can only be found in Chichi.
Known also as Colina Turk'aj (sacred hill) it is located outside the main town of Chichicastenango. This place if full of Mayan legends and history and thousands of ceremonies and sacrifices dedicated to Pascual Abaj (god of man, woman, fertility and rain) took place here. To get to Pascual Ab’aj you will hike through the forest, finding beautiful landscapes, fauna and lots of birds. On the base of this hill you will find a museum with masks, antique artifacts and typical local fabrics.
Considered the most colorful cemetery in the world it is easy to find since is located on the top of a hill. This peculiar cemetery combines the Christian ideology with the Mayan beliefs. According to its traditions, every color on the graves has its meaning: white (pureness, for the fathers) turquoise (protection, for the mothers) yellow (protection of the sun over humanity, used for grandparents) pink and blue (respecting the gender, for girls and boys).
Location and Map
Located in the south of Guatemala, Chichicastenango is part of the municipality of Quiché Department. From Guatemala City and the international airport (GUA), Chichicastenango is 128 km/80 miles away and by car or shuttle bus, travelers can reach Chichicastenango within 3.5 to 4 hours.