Parque Centro América


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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Quetzaltenango attractions

1. Municipalidad

0.03 MILES

The Municipalidad, at the northeastern end of the park, was rebuilt after the 1902 earthquake in the grandiose neoclassical style so favored as a symbol…

2. Cathedral

0.04 MILES

The ornately carved facade of the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo marks the site of the original 1532 construction, which was pulverized by the quakes of 1853…

3. Edificio Rivera

0.04 MILES

A neoclassical structure near the northeast corner of Parque Centro América, the Edificio Rivera has been handsomely renovated (complete with fast-food…

4. Museo de Historia Natural

0.06 MILES

The natural history museum holds a hodgepodge of Maya artifacts, vintage photos, dried leaves, old coins, marimbas, sports trophies, stuffed mammals and…

5. Iglesia El Calvario

0.53 MILES

The church that lends its name to the neighborhood west of the center was built four centuries ago on a rise to avoid Xela's periodic flooding. Check out…

6. Monumento a la Marimba


The Altiplano's signature instrument is given pride of place at the center of this iconic traffic circle on the east end of town.

7. Arco Del Sexto Estado

0.86 MILES

This monumental arch that greets all visitors on the road into Xela commemorates the 1897 Quetzalteca Revolution, a short-lived uprising in the city…

8. Museo del Ferrocarril de los Altos

0.86 MILES

This museum covers the ambitious rail project that connected Quetzaltenango to the Pacific coast but operated for just three years, from 1930 to 1933…