A must is Easter, when during the procession you will see large floats that cary figures of Christ, led by purple Cucuruchos, or the Virgin Mart followed by women dressed in black. Before Easter you can enjoy Holy Week, where you can attend vigils that are celebrated in the churches of La Merced, San Francisco, and the School of Christ.
The traditional carpets of Holy Week use coloured sawdust, flowers, fruits, vegetables and other materials, providing a true spectacle of colours. It is a tradition that dates back to colonial times, allowing its citizens and visitors to live their culture and history.
There are many other attractions near Antigua, in the villages of San Juan del Obispo, San Cristobal el Alto, and San Felipe de Jesus you can see arts and crafts, and visit the ruins of some of the old churches in the country.
Heart of the mayan civilization – Living Mayan Culture
The Guatemalan Altiplano includes the districts of Chimaltenango, Solola, Quiche, Quetzzaltenango, Totonicapan, Huehuetenango and San Marcos. Its narural diversity and richness in fauna and flora makes t one of the most popular destinations in the country.
In this idyllic landscape with its giant volcanoes and glittering lakes, the tranquillity of the mighty nature becomes a source of inspiration. Here, the traditions of the Mayan civilisation survived through the aeons, as the people who inhabit this land preserved their languages, their attire and their cuisine for centuries.
In the summer, in Chimaltengo tourists can witness a series of festivities dedicated to St. Ana, Mother of Virgin Mary and Patron Saint Chimaltengo. You also get to relax in the natural pools of Los Aposentos, Pixacaya or Ojo de Agua. Adventurers should explore Venecia and Devil’s cave, or admire the waterfalls of the River Nican .
The city of Tecpan was first capital of the Sapnish conquistadors, build on the runes of the last capital of the Mayan Kakciquel empire. In this area one can discover pyramids, temples, palaces and other ancient structures such as an arena for a ritual ball game.
Heart of the mayan civilization – Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan – according to National Geographic and to the British writer Aldous Huxley – “the most beautiful lake in the world”. The lake is located at 1600 meters above the sea level and is 18km long at a depth of more than 350m at some places.
Warm air currents from the south intermingle with colder air masses from the high plateau producing a notorious wind called Xocomil and stir the water surface. The lake is surrounded by the majestic beauty of volcanoes pics of Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro.
There are two theories how the lake might have formed : One suggests that a dead volcano crater filled up with water over time, while the other implies that three rivers once met at this point when the volcanoes formed around them. The natural park of Lake Atitlan spreads across 120 hectares in the valley of “San Beunaventura”
Heart of the mayan civilization – City of The Ancients
Business and leisure life unfolds in the central square of Huehuetenango, which is framed by the Town Hall, the Church of the Immaculate Conception and several neoclassical buildings. On the square there is a relief map of about 30 square metres in diameter.
The local festivals are worth a visit, particularly “Nuestra Senora del Carmen” or “La Coneption”. A typical dish of the region is Jocon, which has been declared a National Cultural Heritage.
The “Hoyo Cimarron” is a cylindrical hole with a diameter of approx. 170m and a depth of 15o m that hides a patch of forrest at the bottom. This unique habitat offers protection to a number of rare birds and other unique animal species.
Another cultural highlight is Zaculeu, an archaeological site attributed to the Mam people and a formerly fortified city in the post-classical era with squares, pyramids, temples and other ancient buildings.
The region of Solola contributes large portions of the country’s wool production, but the cultivation of coffee is becoming increasingly important as an economic base of the local people. The culinary specialities of the region are stew with potatoes, patin, cress with chirmol sauce or pork loin ragout.
Located in wide valley and surrounded by three active volcanoes, Quetzaltenango is one of the important and largest cities in Guatemala. It is an industrial center for the production of textiles and liquors, a strategic trading hub and a cultural centre alike.
The Ermita de la Conception in the village of Salcaj is a religious monument that attract visitors from the entire country and beyond. It is the seat of the first Central American Catholic Church.
Santa Cruz del Quiche is the administrative centre of the region and an important centre for the preservation of the ancient Mayan rites and traditions in their original form. Some of the typical dishes are pinol, boxboles, chicken with apazote, chojin chicasteco and white tamales.
The town of Playa Grande Ixcan offers a variety of natural attractions such as rivers, waterfalls, hotsprings and caves. The village of Laj Chiel in Uspantan is the birth place of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Rigoberta Menchu. Chicaman is a natural paradise famous for its untouched nature and of its inhabitants lively culture.
Chichicastenango is home to the Maxenos and one of the country most important tourist destinations when it comes to exploring the culture of Maya. It’s where the Popol Vuh was found, the legendary religious Mayan book that tells about the origin of mankind and was translated in Spanish by Fray Francisco Ximenez.
Among the numerous tourist attractions of the city, the Cerro Pascual Abaj, the Museum of Masks, the Gumarcaj Excavation Site and the Church of Apostle Thomas dating from 1540 truly stand out. The celebrations in honor of the city’s patron St.Thomas are celebrated with traditional dances for a week in mid December.
San Marcos district is home to the highest peak of Central America, also, the two volcanoes Tacana and Tajamulco rise up here. The region is also home to the legendary Quetzal Guatemala’s heraldig bird.
In San Marcos one can admire the caves of “La Castalla”, or have a thermal bath at “Aqua Tibia” sulphorous stream. The Mayan Palace and “Pietra Pertida” are compulsory boxes to tick in your visit of the area.
Some of the San Cristobal Totonicapan main attractions worth mentioned are the colourful Church of San Andres Xecul, the city theatre, the parish Church of the Archangel Michael and the Centre of Arts and Crafts. In the caves of San Miguel and of Chuisan Antonio Mundo there are ancient sacred sites.
Heart of the mayan world – One of the planet’s lungs
In the north of Guatemala lies the Heart of the Mayan Civilization, fourteen municipalities from the heartland of the ancient realm, where various languages such as Itza, Lacandon, Mopan, Q’eqchi’ and Ixil are still spoken.
Flores is the regional administrative centre and the starting point for discovery trips to the numerous tourist attractions of the district. Situated on a small island in the lake of Peten Itza, the town fascinates its visitors by its winding alleys, picturesque shops, restaurants, hotels and street stands with typical dishes of the region.