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Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Population - 35,000

The run-down appearance of modern Santa Lucia belies its distinguished historical importance. A 10 km2 area called the “Cotzumalguapa nuclear zone” contains within it the sites of Bilbao, El Baúl and El Castilo. More than 200 structures and 180 sculptured monuments have been discovered here, dating from somewhere between 500 to 800 AD.

The predominant tribe throughout the years were the Pipil, although the Quichés and Cakchiqueles also took their turn in charge before the Spaniards came. Life changed dramatically and the old ceremonial grounds were lost first to nature and then to coffee. Ironically it was while land was being cleared for a coffee plantation, that some ruins were discovered and the search for more began.

Nowadays the coffee plantations have all given way to sugarcane plantations. In the town itself there is little to show for the history immortalized in the surrounding area. A massive stelae that used to be in the central square, next to the church, disappeared when the park was remodeled in 2003.

The Bilbao stones, a fifteen minute walk from the centre of town, are famous more as a place where tourists are attacked than for the story they tell. It is strange that Santa Lucia makes little fuss about something which most towns would fuss too much about.

Modern day Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa is called by this name for two reasons. The lady Santa Lucía was a beautiful virgin who had caught the eye of the invading Spaniards. Fearing that she would be taken against her will, she chose instead to take out her eyes with a pen, correctly guessing that they would no longer be interested. In the main church, above the center altar, there is an effigy of her holding a pen and a box (with her eyes) in her right hand.

The latter part of the towns' name, Cotzumalguapa, means place of the comadrejas, which is an animal, similar to a weasel, that used to be found all around this region.


Other places nearby Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa: Coatepeque, Sipacate & La Paredón, Tilapa & Tilapita, Iztapa, El Tulate, Monterrico, Taxisco, Las Lisas, Guatemala's Pacific Coast and Chiquimulilla.

By Kathryn
Independent and optimistic, I believe in following your dreams and have been doing just that, traveling the world for the last 9 years. British by...
09 Feb 2010

Things to do in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Museo El Baúl

The free, open-air museum of El Baúl is a collection of sculptures found from all over the sugarcane plantation\'s estate. At the entrance, visitors are greeted by a massive stone jaguar that is ...
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala

El Baúl Hilltop

This site with a glorious half-buried giant head and a clearly preserved monument is popular with descendents of the Pipil who come to honor their ancestors and their Gods in the old ...
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala

Bilbao Stones

It is a surreal walk to leave the hustle and bustle of town, enter the cane fields and seemingly discover by chance the existence of carved boulders. Dating from the late classic ...
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala

Museo Cultura Cotzumalguapa

In the mid to late 1800’s, land was cleared to make way for a coffee plantation that later became a sugarcane plantation. Many stelae, ceramics and artifacts were discovered; in ...
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala
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