Top choice in Chichicastenango

Some villagers still walk for hours carrying their wares to reach Chichi's market, one of Guatemala's largest and a highlight of many people's trips to the country. It's a rich mix of the traditional and the tourist, where local women shopping for a new huipile rub shoulders with travelers looking for a textile souvenir. Sunday is the busier of the two market days, when Spanish school students and weekenders from Guatemala City descend en masse on Chichi.

At dawn on Thursday and Sunday vendors spread out their vegetables, chunks of chalk (ground to a powder and boiled with dried maize to soften it), handmade harnesses and other merchandise, and wait for customers. In the past vendors erected their stands of tree limbs and covered them with cotton sheeting each market day, but these days a sea of tin roofs remains a permanent fixture atop the plaza.

Tourist-oriented handicraft stalls selling masks, textiles, pottery and so on now occupy much of the plaza and the streets to the north. Things villagers need – food, soap, clothing, sewing notions, toys – cluster at the north end of the square and in the covered Centro Comercial Santo Tomás off the north side, whose upper deck offers irresistible photo opportunities of the fruit- and vegetable-selling business conducted below.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Chichicastenango attractions

1. Mural

0.02 MILES

Be sure to admire the mural that runs alongside the wall of the town hall on the east side of the plaza – it’s dedicated to the victims of the civil war…

2. Museo Arqueológico Regional

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Chichi's archaeology museum holds the collection of Hugo Rossbach, a German who served as the town's Catholic priest until his death in 1944. It includes…

3. Centro Comercial Santo Tomás

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Even on non-market days, the covered market on the north side of the square buzzes with activity. The fresh produce on display is a reflection of…

4. Iglesia de Santo Tomás

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This church on the plaza's east side dates from 1540 and is often the scene of rituals that are more distinctly Maya than Catholic. Inside, the floor of…

5. Capilla del Calvario

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On the west side of the plaza, this whitewashed church is similar in form and function to Santo Tomás, but smaller. Ceremonies go on continually in front…

6. Galería Pop-Wuj

0.21 MILES

On the way down the hill to the shrine at Pascual Abaj, you might stop into this interesting gallery. Developed as an art institute for local children…

7. Pascual Abaj

0.46 MILES

On a hilltop south of town, Pascual Abaj (Sacrifice Stone) is a shrine to the Maya earth god Huyup Tak'ah (Mountain Plain). A stone-faced idol stands amid…

8. K'umarcaaj

6.76 MILES

The ruins of the ancient K'iche' Maya capital of K'umarcaaj remain a sacred site for the Maya, and contemporary rituals are customarily enacted here…