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Iglesia Santo Tomás - Historical Building Chichicastenango - Guatemala

Dating from the mid-16th century, and rebuilt in the 18th century, this atmospheric church is a great introduction to the fascinating highland blend of Catholicism and Mayan spiritualism. It is believed that the locals converted to Catholicism after a resident Spanish priest was seen reading the Mayan sacred book the Popul Vuh, which he had discovered in the monastery next door.

Incense and a fire burn incessantly on the front steps, and it is customary to make an offering here before entering. The smoke cloud outside, and the constant hum of prayer inside, creates a mystical feel to the place. The spirits of deceased loved ones are said to reside in special places within the church and sit alongside Catholic saints.

Location:
Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Historical Building Types:
Churches and religious buildings

Getting There

South east corner of the plaza.

Travel Tips:

The front door is reserved for high-priests and senior Mayans so remember to enter through the side door and do not take photographs.

Relative price: Free

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

The El Calvario church, on the opposite side of the plaza, is little-visited and shares Santo Tomás's aesthetic characteristics.



Here are other activities in and around Chichicastenango that may be of interest: Pascual Abaj,








By Joanne Sykes

Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo is currently working as a freelance travel writer in Latin America. With degrees in...

26 Nov 2009


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