- Location: About 88 miles northwest of Guatemala City
- Attraction Type: Market
- Significance: Most colorful market in Central American countries
- Best Time to Visit: All through the year
- How to reach: By road from Guatemala City
- Nearest Airport: Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport
Chichicastenango Market is among the most colorful local markets in Central America. Vendors from all around Guatemala City gather in Chichicastenango to trade their wares including fruits, vegetables, chicken, pig, candles, wooden boxes, medicinal plants, tools, machetes, and grindstones. This market predominantly attended by the Kiche Maya community is held on Thursdays and Sundays. The combination of bright costumes, din, odors, and smoke create a heady unavoidable ambiance.
Guatemala Chichicastenango Market located at a distance of approximately 140 km from the capital city draws sellers and buyers even from neighboring Central American countries. Vendors begin setting up their stores the night before in the main plaza and its adjoining streets. ‘Bombas’ or firecrackers attached to homemade rockets or ‘cohetes’ are burnt at daybreak and intermittently from time to time as a customary practice. The smell of fireworks and incense burnt in the steps of Santo Tomas Church makes the environment heady.
The arrangement of the stalls is noticeable with vendors selling similar category items organized together. You would find flower sellers arranged on the steps of Santo Tomas Church which is 400 years old. There are distinct areas for medicinal plants, potteries, wooden items, and ‘cal’ or lime. There is a special section for ‘comedores’ of traditional eateries.
Another spectacular feature of Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala City is the bright clothes adorned by the local people. These dresses are village or province-specific and people with thorough knowledge about the demographic and social pattern can easily identify the villagers’ native places from their clothes. In Chichicastenango, people gather from Nebaj, Nahuala, and Solola. The different types of attires include ‘traje’, ‘rodillera’ or woolen wrap-around worn over pants, ‘huipil’ or Mayan blouse decorated by hand.
Other sights that would amaze you are native musicians performing in the streets, mask carvers displaying their unique creations, and religious processions. The Popul Vuh Museum is a wonderful collection of Mayan artifacts and handcrafted items. An ancient stone idol would catch your attention. Devotees offer flowers, lighted candles, ‘aguardiente’ or locally brewed sugar cane rum, and incense to this deity.
Eating and Staying in Chichicastenango
In Chichicastenango you could savor some of their exotic local dishes like fried chicken, Mayan stew flavored with powdered pumpkin sees, and chicken soup. For a comfortable stay, you might select from Hotel Chalet, Santo Tomas Hotel, Mayan Inn, Posada El Arco, and Hotel Chuguila.