Town of Chichicastenango
Town of Chichicastenango is part of the Tentative list of Guatemala in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The Town of Chichicastenango is a K'iche' Maya cultural centre. It has vernacular architecture as well as buildings from the Spanish and Republican periods. Most notable is the Church of Santo Tomás, which is built on top of a Pre-Columbian temple platform and is still used in Maya rituals.
Map of Town of ChichicastenangoLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Highly popular, highly recommended, highly religious (bleh) but I didn't like it very much, what went wrong?
For one when you go you need to go on a market day, Thursday and Sunday. On any other day you will find this place on par with any generic town in Guatemala. The location is nice and the drive was good but most viewpoints where towards the lake and volcanoes.
Alright so market day is interesting to stroll through the markets but isn't that similar to the market in Antigua? Yes, for sure, so I don't see how it was worth it coming for the market day, maybe it used to be more interesting but vendors selling cloths and trinkets are not special at all. The churches were closed and don't strike me as unique.
Chichicastenango was a fascinating small city to visit. You don't come for nature's beauty, ancient stone artifacts, or grand palaces, but for its unique living culture. The people and their culture descend from the ancient Maya, and that heritage still infuses everyday life. The evolution of culture is on evident display, a mix of the modern and the ancestral. Sometimes in easily visible things like the traditional clothing, sometimes in many more subtle ways, like the cartoonish mask of a colonial Spaniard used in a local folk dance. The ancient religious practices mix unabashedly with Catholicism. The pretty colonial church on the plaza mayor had the most incense-saturated atmosphere I have ever been in. We were invited to accompany a local shaman into the woods to observe some religious ritual, an experience that was amazing at the time (and in hindsight, maybe a little scary). The central open-air market is an amazing place to check out the local foodstuffs, as well as notice the colorful fabrics and their weave patterns representing individual villages.
Our hotel was also a unique experience. No locks on the door, but we were assigned one man who was responsible for our room and making sure it was secured. No central heat -- if the cool mountain air was too cold, you had your guy build a fire in the fireplace.
I think Chichi definitely has OUV, but it is mostly of the intangible type that is harder to preserve.
We visited Chichi in 1988, during a relatively peaceful pause from the political unrest and violence that had wracked Guatemala years prior. So I must apologize if my review is a tad out-of-date, but it was such an unforgettable place!
2002 Added to Tentative List
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26 Community Members have visited.