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Iximché - Ruin Tecpán - Guatemala

The word Iximché comes from the Mayan words Ixim, meaning maize and Ché, meaning tree and was once the Kaqchikel capital. Founded around 1470, in the shadow of the Ratzamut mountain and protected by ravines cut by the rivers El Molino and El Chocoyos, the site is considered the cradle of historical and archeological Guatemala. Despite there being only foundations left as evidence of the buildings which once provided housing, business and sports facilities for the 10,000 population, it is still a beautiful site, with its mix of wide green plazas and scattered stone ruins making it very peaceful. Things were not always so peaceful though. On April 14 1524 Pedro de Alvarado arrived with his conquest henchmen and took the site for his own, establishing the first Spanish capital in Guatemala right here on July 25 1524.

After years of fighting with their K’iche’ neighbors, the Kaqchikel leaders tactically aligned themselves with the Spanish when they arrived here. However, this happy arrangement did not last long and in September of the same year the Kaqchikel finally had enough of the excessive demands of Alvarado and secretly fled to the mountains. Unfortunately the rebellion was not successful. In 1528 the Kaqchikel began to pay tributes to the Spanish and fearing another uprising Alvarado executed two Kaqchikel leaders in 1540.

Nowadays you can still see some of the pyramids and ball courts of the original town. Where once would have been adobe and thatched-roofs atop impressive stone bases, now only the stone lower halves remain.

The site is still used for ceremonies. In 1980 the Campesino Unity Committee met here to discuss the Declaration of Iximché, after the massacre of some of their leaders the same year as they occupied the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City.


The site is about 5 Kilometers south west of

Tecpán, Guatemala

Ruin Types:

Getting There

To get there take a mini bus or a tuk-tuk from the center of town.

Travel Tips:

There are no cafés on site but you can buy drinks and it’s a great spot for a picnic.

All displays are in Spanish and Kaqchikel only.

Price Description:

$5 (Q50)

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:8a.m.

Open Hours to:4p.m.

Days Closed:The museum building closes at midday.

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

Currencies accepted
Guatemalan quetzal

By Joanne Sykes

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

03 May 2010

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