Chichicastenango Market – Guatemala
You wouldn’t immediately think that a small town 2,000 metres high up in the Guatemalan highlands would be the best place for one of the largest marketplaces in Central America. And yet Chichicastenango, or ‘Chichi’, has served this very purpose for hundreds of years, and continues to thrive despite its extreme location. This sleepy town perched on mountains edges comes alive on Thursdays and Sundays as locals come to trade and sell their goods to tourists and each other alike. The centre of the town is awash with colour as the stacked stalls entice you to haggle for a bargain. The market is the perfect place to buy authentic Guatemalan artefacts, ranging from beautiful hand-woven textiles and clothes, traditional Mayan dress, exquisite wood and stone carvings, typical Central American masks and expertly fashioned leather goods. With two lovely churches either end of the market square, and set to the backdrop of stunning mountainous terrain, Chichicastenango and its famous market is a must see for those seeking an authentic Guatemalan experience.
Where is it?
Chichicastenango is in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, north of the stunning Lake Atitlan. It is also close to Guatemala City, which lies roughly 90 miles to the south-east, and is such very accessible by car from the capital.
What is it?
A small town renowned for its great market place, at which many locals still walk with their food crops and goods to trade. The market has grown substantially alongside the blossoming tourism industry in Guatemala.
Best time to visit?
The Fiesta of Saint Thomas occurs every December from the 14th till the 21st.The spectacular occasion includes awe-inspiring street gymnastics, live music, traditional dancing and fantastic firework displays. A truly unforgettable experience.
The town is a rare example of different religions working alongside each other in perfect harmony, which is most apparent at the striking Church of St Thomas. This Catholic Church, built on an Ancient Maya structure, is still home to many Mayan religious rituals. These include the burning of sweet smelling incense and candles and are an inspiring example of religious harmony.