By : Victoria

Chichicastenango

Colourful masks for sale

 

 

Chichicastenango: The Market 

 Chichicastenango

Fruit and veg for sale

 

Located in the country’s highlands, the small town of Chichicastenango is known for its colourful market held twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. In fact, locals claim it as the biggest market in the Americas (and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had the longest name in the Americas as well!)

 

Chichicastenango

Local produce for sale

 

The local population is mostly K’iche Maya, hence the town’s name “Chichi”. “Tenango” can roughly be translated as “the place of”. Chichicastenango is home to some 45,000 people but that number swells on market days when vendors (and their families) and visitors arrive in their hundreds, if not thousands.

 

Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

 

The market can be roughly divided in two; the section selling artisanal wares aimed predominantly at tourists and the locals’ market. If you have time, it’s well worth wandering (or rather shuffling as there are so many people!) through both.

 

Chichicastenango

Market day

 

The locals’ market has sections dedicated to fruit and vegetables, another reserved for fish and yet another area where live cattle, chickens and turkeys are sold. Eggs, flowers and spices are for sale as is limestone to make tortillas. Simply put, this section of the market sells pretty much everything.

 

Chichicastenango

Textiles for sale

 

Chichicastenango

Too much choice?!

 

The more touristy side of the market is where you’ll find stalls selling textiles, embroidery, handicrafts, wood carvings, colourful masks, pottery, jewellery, bags and more. We were particularly drawn to the stalls selling row upon row of colourful woollen yarn. If I only knew what to do with it, I would have definitely bought some!

 

Chichicastenango

A rainbow of colours

 

Chichicastenango

Makes me want to take up weaving!

 

Chichicastenango

Embroidered dresses

 

Chichicastenango

The traditional local dress

 

 

Other Sights in Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

Santo Tomas Church

 

The heart of the town is the church of Santo Tomas (Iglesia de Santo Tomas), a 400-year-old church built atop a Pre-Columbian temple. Maya tradition is very much alive in Chichi and although built as a Catholic church, Mayan rituals dominate. Mayan priests burn incense and candles and throw alcohol on the altars and whisper prayers into the flames. Each of the 18 steps leading up to the church represent one  month in the Maya calendar (the calendar has 18 months each with 20 days).

 

Chichicastenango

Santo Tomas sits in the heart of the town…and the market

 

 

How to get to Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

A colourful cemetery sits in the far distance

 

As the quetzal flies, Chichicastenango is not far from Antigua or Guatemala City but the windy mountain roads mean that it takes a few hours to get there. Your best bet, particularly if travelling with kids, is to book a tourist shuttle. Your other option is to join the locals on a colourful chicken bus, which will be less comfortable but definitely more interesting!

From Antigua it takes around 3 hours.  From Lake Atitlan it takes approximately 1-2 hours depending on traffic.

 

 

Where to Stay in Chichicastenango

It’s easy to visit Chichi as a day trip but if you did want to spend longer then your best options are the Mayan Inn or Posada El Arco.

 

 

You May Also Enjoy the Following Posts:

Things to do in Antigua with Kids

Take the Kids to Tikal!

A Guide to Guatemala with Kids

Off the Beaten Path in Xela

Where to Stay in Antigua with Kids

Antigua’s Best Restaurants for Families

 

 

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Guatemala with kids: Chichicastenango via @globetotting