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Top Guatemala

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.

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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