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San Juan Comalapa

As the route west from Chimaltenango cuts through pretty corn and pea fields, the scenery begins to change with the appearance of pine trees alongside the climbing and winding roads. At Km63-64 is the turn-off for the village of Zaragosa and the road to San Juan Comalapa.


Rarely visited but worth the detour, the town’s major claim to fame is Ricardo Alvarez Ovalle, the music composer for Guatemala’s National Anthem, who was born here in 1858.


Getting To and Away from San Juan Comalapa Buses leave Chimaltenango every hour for the 45-minute journey to Comalapa. You can also pick up a mini-bus from the highway.


Things to See and Do

Surprisingly, Comalapa’s main draw is its thriving art community. As well as an art museum (3a Calle), there are smaller art galleries open to the public, like that of internationally renowned artist Iván Gabriel. The Café Galleria is run by his son, Wilder, who offers tours of his father’s studio, whose work has been showcased in over eight countries including the United States, England and Spain.


Alongside the art, there's a reservation-only restaurant available for group-bookings, offering a full-course menu for $12 per person. Av. 2-88 Zona 1. Tel: 502-7849-8168, Cell: 502-4224-0789, E-mail:, URL:


Works by the famous Maya Kaqchikel painter Andrés Curruchiche, also from Comalapa, can be seen in the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena in Guatemala City.


Comalapa also boasts four churches, the oldest of which you can see if you look backwards to your right as you enter the town. Around the main square at the end of the high street are the two new churches built side by side as a replacement for the church which collapsed during the 1976 earthquake.




On the high street you’ll find a Ban Rural and a Cajero 5B ATM as well as a G&T Continental with Western Union. There is an Internet café at Avenida 2-88 and 2a Calle and a Despensar Familiar supermarket.




On the main street is Hotel El Refugio de Dona Catarina. 0 Av. 0-72 Zona 1. Tel: 502-78498232. Hotel San Juan Los Espera is at 1a Calle 0-51 Zona 2. Tel: 502-41460807.




For a snack there are plenty of food stalls around the main plaza. El Shadai restaurant, next to Ban Rural, serves up local and international dishes. 0 Av. 2-09 Zona 4. Tel: 502-41321391, E-mail:, URL: Nearby is the roast chicken café Pollolandia.

Note: the high street in town is numbered as avenue ‘0’.



Other places nearby San Juan Comalapa: Uspantán, Jaibalito, Santa Cruz La Laguna, San Pedro La Laguna, Acul, Sacapulas, Tecpán, Chichicastenango, Tzununá and Departamento Del Quiché.

By Joanne Sykes

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

14 Sep 2009

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