A Centuries-Old Trading Town Never Dies
Guatemala’s largest market takes place in Chichicastenango, one of the country’s most colorful and accessible highland towns. Crafts from all over the country are sold here, and “Chichi’s” famous twice-weekly market has become a popular tourist attraction. This has been an important trading town since well before the Spanish conquest, and Indian village life is still reflected by the vendors and the stalls with mouthwatering food set up to allay their hunger.
The tourist stalls are traditionally set up around the outer edges of the market for better visibility, so head for the inner nucleus around the fountain, where the Indian population trades and barters. And pay a visit the night before, when Indian families from more than sixty surrounding villages set out their wares and exchange news and goods before settling in to sleep under the stars. Of the two market days, Sunday is when the traditional religious brotherhoods called cofradías often stage processions or ceremonies in the whitewashed 16th-century Church of Santo Tomás, where Catholic and Mayan rituals are practiced side by side. One of the country’s most charming hotels, the Hotel Mayan Inn, is located here: The Quiche-Maya staff dress in traditional costume, and each room is its own museum, individually appointed in local crafts and textiles.