Market of Chichicastenago
Every Thursday and Sunday there is a large market in Chichicastenango. Thousands of Mayans and many tourists visit the largest market in Central America to animals, flowers, souvenirs or any other special items to buy. On the stairs and in the 400 year old St. Thomas Church traders spread their wares, they burn incense and offer food to the Los Magos Mayan god of the earth.
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When you are in Chichicastenango you have to go to the market - the biggest in Guatemala.
Here you can meet indians from many places who come to sell their products - you can really get anything, and it's very colorful and diverse.
On this link you can see what days they have the market:
I found a video about the Chichicastenango market - click the link below.
Capilla del Calvario
Located on the opposite side of the Parque Central from the Iglesia de Santo Tomas, the Capilla del Calvario is a smaller whitewashed church in Chichi. This is another interesting site in Chichi and another diversion worthy of exploration from the hustle and bustle of the market. One can get a good view of the market spread out in the Parque Cental from the steps.
Iglesia de Santo Tomas
Standing above the fray of the market on the east end of the Parque Central is the white washed Iglesia de Santo Tomas. Built in 1540 the church sits at the top of a series of stone steps that takes the visitor up and above the activity of the market. The lower steps serve as part of the market with flower vendors taking up most of the area. On most days (including Sunday which was the day we were there), church members burn incense and swing censers outside the front door at the top of the steps which provides a smokey scene. Going inside to observe locals worshipping and to admire the rather stark interior can be a welcome diversion from the crowded market. Photos are not allowed inside the church.
This is the main reason for anyone's trip to Chichi. And there are two main reasons to some to the market. One is the collection of locally produced crafts from handwoven textiles to wood carvved masks. This is a great place to get those souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back hom. The second reason is the experience and see the indigenous peoples who are descendants of the Maya. Despite the flocks of tourists who come to the market, the majority of the people here are still the locals dressed in their colorful traditional clothes and going about their daily lives. Both of these reasons also make the market a photographer's dream with photo ops at every turn of the head. Be sure to bring a camera with lots of memory.
It's easy enough to get away from the tourists if you venture away from the craft stalls that predominate in the square in front of and to the north of the main church. The meat market is to the left from about the middle of the square as you look out from the steps of the church. The prepared foods, traje, and housewares are in the areas to the right of the main square.
Sundays also have the added attraction of seeing the procession of cofradias, or church officials, from the main church. You'll have to get to Chichi by 10am or so however to see the procession.
Market days are Thursdays and Sundays
Visit the church of Santo Tomás
The church of Santo Tomas is more than 400 years old and reflects the mixture of Catholic and indian Mayan beliefs. While Santo Tomas is officially a Catholic church, it is also used by Mayan shamans who burn candles and incense and perform their rituals either on the steps to the church or inside - the smoke takes away the bad spirits.
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We didn't actually go to the cemetery for safety reasons, but it was visible from the outskirts of the market area. I zoomed in. I love the colours. A shame we couldn't check it out; cemeteries fascinate me!
La Igelsia de Santo Tomas
The main church of ChiChi is Santo Tomas, which dates back to 1540. Every since then, a mix of Mayan and Christian worship takes place here. The local Mayans near Chichi are the Kaqchikel and their presence goes way back, long before the arrival of the Spanish. The locals here do not hide the fact that there is just as much pagan influence on their local brand of religion as there is Catholic influence. The 18 steps that lead up to the front of the church represent the 18 months of the Mayan calendar (there are 18 months and 20 days in each month).
If you would like to visit the church, be sure not to enter through the main door at the top of the stairs leading off the square. This entrance is reserved for locals. You can go to the right side of the church and enter from the side door for a small fee. Inside, the church is sparse and appears to be right out of another time. The smell of incense is thick and the smoke in the air gives it a dark and other-worldly appearance.
The cemetery in ChiChi is located down the hill on the western end of town. The colorful graves which are all above ground make for great photos. You'll also get interesting views up toward the main square up the hill. Take a little time to explore the graveyard, but be sure you're not here alone as it's one of the few isolated places in ChiChi.
Not far from here is the Shrine of Pascual Abaj, just outside of ChiChi on the hill near the cemetery. Local Mayans still come here to worship their Earth God offering incense, rum and cigarettes to their deity.
Capilla de Calvario
The other main church in ChiChi across the main square is the Calvary Chapel. We visited the inside and it appeard to be similar to the Church of Santo Tomas; incense, sparse decorations and an obvious blend of Mayan and Christian practices. The view from the steps over the square is great and if you're looking for a quick escape from the crowded market, this is a good option.
Shop 'til you drop!
The famous market in ChiChi takes place on Thursdays and Sundays and the town literally gets swamped with day tripping tourists and travelers. Nonetheless, it's still worth visiting and braving the crowds in order to see all of the myriad of items on sale. However, if you have the opportunity, I'd recommend coming the night before or staying for an extra day so that you can see the town without all the crowds. We arrived in ChiChi on a Wednesday afternoon when the streets were still relatively quiet. The main square was the only area of significant activity with plenty of vendors of Mayan descent setting up their shops, which are constructed of wooden poles and tarps.
For more about the market, check out my shopping tip.
On the south side of the main square, you'll find the small regional museum. Ryan and I spent about 20 minutes walking through the place, which has an uninspired collection of clay pots, obsidian spearheads and jade. I was bored and couldn't wait to get back outside to the real museum of life taking place in the market!
5 Quetzales for non-nationals.
what else?there are other things to do anyway(check later..)
sunday morning is the busiest day in this otherwise deserted place.the market will please every taste, loads of souvenir from blankets to masks, and loads of plastic gadgets and obviously food.if u can, be there on saturday night,and enjoy the loneliness of the place.there is even a small market on saturday night(prices are better..).
it s one of the most interesting cemeteries i ve ever been( and i love wandering around this kind of places...)very colourfull and extremely mistycal with many people perfoming particualr rites tipical of their own religion, especially very early in the morning.
early market visit
Of course everyone goes to Chichicastenango (chichi) to visit the market on Thursday or Sunday. If you do so as well, try to arrive one day before so you can get up very early on the market day. The market does not realy start before the most tourists get out there bed. So if you arrive at 5.45-6.00 you will probably be the only tourist. You can have a 'quiet' breakfast at the middle of the square between local people. After breakfast go and sit on the stairs of one of the two churches and enjoy seeing the market comming alive with a fantastic sunrise.
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