Welcome to San Juan Comalapa
Comalapa gained its reputation during the 1950s when native son Andrés Curruchich (1891–1969) rose to fame for his primitive paintings of village life, ceremonies and legends, and his works ended up on display as far away as San Francisco, Dallas and Detroit. Considered the father of Guatemalan 'primitivist' painting, he was awarded the prestigious Order of the Quetzal.
Comalapa is also known as the birthplace of Rafael Álvarez Ovalle, composer of Guatemala's national anthem.
In 1976 a major earthquake caused widespread devastation in Comalapa and took the lives of 3500 inhabitants. The Templo de San Juan Bautista, the town's oldest church and a survivor of four previous quakes, was mostly toppled but later rebuilt. Scenes from the earthquake and other events appear on a major set of murals – at 184m reputedly the country's longest – that cover the walls along the southern approach. Painted by students in 2002, the panels allude to the origins of Maya culture and envision a possible future.
You can visit the house Curruchich was born in, on the main street. His daughter and granddaughter will show you around and there is some information about the artist. His legacy lives on as other villagers took up the brush and started working in a similar primitive style. Their works can be viewed at the Galería de Arte Gabriel and Museo de Arte Maya, the latter also featuring archaeological finds and vintage photos.