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San Francisco El Alto

Located just north of the Cuatro Caminos junction, the highland town of San Francisco El Alto is home to Guatemala’s largest market. Unlike the more tourist orientated version in Chichicastenango, San Francisco’s Friday market treats visitors to a truly authentic highland experience. You won’t find a wide array of artisan textiles and souvenirs, but if it’s the experience you are after then it is certainly worth a visit. There is also a large animal section at this market, where bleets, neighs and the clucking of hens are intermingled with loudspeaker auctions and advertisements for unusual remedies, such as shark oil.

Another worthwhile place to see in San Francisco El Alto is the town’s baroque style church, Iglesia San Francisco de Asís. Its possibly dull façade belies an elegant interior with beautiful retablos and frescos on the arches and ceiling. By paying a small fee, visitors can climb up the church’s spiral staircase and get an even better view of the large market and the town.

While most venture to San Francisco for a day trip, there are a couple of accommodation options for those who want stay a little longer. The Hotel Vista Hermosa is quite comfortable for around $5-8 a night, as is the Hotel Galaxia for $7, with secure parking. However, when it comes to dining out there is even less choice. Restaurante y CafeterĂ­a La Fuente, situated beside the butchers, serves a tasty hot chocolate and a fine sandwich.

Other neighborhoods in Quetzaltenango : Salcajá, Cantel, Laguna Chicabal, Xela, Totonicapán, El Palmar Viejo, Zunil, Los Vahos, Zona 3 Quetzaltenango and Las Cumbres.

02 Aug 2010

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