Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apóstol

Santiago Atitlán

The formidable parish church was built by the Franciscans in the mid-16th century. A memorial plaque just inside the entrance on your right commemorates Father Stanley Francis Rother, a missionary priest from Oklahoma. Beloved by the local people, Rother was murdered by ultrarightists in the parish rectory next door in 1981; the bedroom where he slept remains open to visitors.

Along the walls of the church are wooden statues of the saints, each of whom has new clothes made by local women every year. At the front stand three colonial altarpieces that were renovated between 1976 and 1981 by brothers Diego Chávez Petzey and Nicolás Chávez Sojuel. These symbolize the three volcanoes around Santiago, which are believed to protect the town. The central one was subtly changed from a traditional European vision of heaven to a more Maya representation of a sacred mountain with two cofradía members climbing toward a sacred cave.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santiago Atitlán attractions

1. Parque Central

0.05 MILES

Here you’ll find a stone monument that commemorates Concepción Ramírez, the woman on the back of the 25 centavo coin, and a basin that contains a relief…

3. Parque de Paz

0.74 MILES

During the civil war, Santiago became the first village in the country to succeed in expelling the army, following a notorious massacre of 13 villagers on…

4. Museo Tz'unun 'Ya

4.82 MILES

This museum focuses on the history of the Tz'utujil people and geology of the region, with a film on the formation of the lake and an interesting gallery…

5. Cerro Tzankujil

6.06 MILES

This nature reserve is on a sacred hill west of San Marcos village. Well-maintained pebbly trails lead to swimming areas with shelters by the bank and a…

6. Museo Lacustre Atitlán


Inside the Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo, this museum has displays on the history of the Atitlán region and the volcanic eruptions that created its…

7. La Galería

8.52 MILES

Overflowing with art by Guatemalan painters and sculptors, this gallery functions as both an exhibit space and cultural center, hosting lectures, films…

8. Casa Cakchiquel

8.54 MILES

Pana's cultural center started life as one of the first hotels on the lake, built by a Swedish countess in 1948. Now it holds a radio station, Japanese…