Chichicastenango

Market at Chichicastenango

Perched on a high mountain ridge encircled by a pine forest, the Quiche Maya town of Chichicastenango hosts the most famous indigenous market in Central America.

On Sundays and Thursdays, its central plaza overflows with fresh flowers, traditional foods, and practical housewares.

Villagers in traditional dress travel from miles around, to trade, worship, and reunite with friends.

Hand-Carved Masks and Handmade Textiles

Hand-carved masks and brilliantly embroidered textiles can be purchased directly from the artisans.

Chichicastenango—known locally as Chichi—is a holy city to the Quiche.

Expressions of traditional Maya belief are ubiquitous, frequently intertwined with Catholic rites.

Santo Tomas Church

Constructed in 1540, The whitewashed church of Santo Tomas is built atop a Maya temple platform.

Visitors burn copal incense and scatter rose petals near its front door—an act of reverence for the ancient altar buried there.

At the opposite end of the market plaza lies the church of El Calvario.

Here, in a room next to the chapel, a Mayan spiritual advisor fields inquiries from curious visitors.

Pascual Abaj

Just south of town, at the hilltop shrine of Pascual Abaj, Maya priests conduct captivating ceremonies around a carved stone monument.

Each year, from December 14th to the 21st, Chichicastenango holds a town fair in honor of Saint Thomas—their patron saint.

As part of this celebration, young men test their strength and bravery by climbing a pole known as the palo volador.

Upon reaching the top, they spin back to earth on ropes.

Nativity scenes, handmade Christmas ornaments, and processions known as posadas add to the festival atmosphere.

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