Most of Xela's sights crowd in and around the broad central plaza. It's a great place for a stroll or to sit and people-watch. It was originally two separate parks, designed by Italian architect Alberto Porta in the 19th century; these were combined in a 1930s update into its current oblong shape. The most notable of the monuments scattered along its expanse is a rotunda of Ionic columns dedicated to the composer Rafael Álvarez Ovalle.
In the center of the plaza is a pillar dedicated to Justo Rufino Barrios, the 19th-century president whose 'reforms' transferred land ownership from Maya peasants to coffee-plantation owners.