Chichicastenango or "Chichi" as it's known locally is an incredibly atmospheric little market town set up high on the mountains (around 2,000 metres) around 2 hours/140 kilometres from Guatemala City. Famous for its colourful indigenous market held every Thursday and Sunday, it's really worth a visit to soak up some of the local K'iche' Maya culture and customs and marvel at the stunningly beautiful traditional native costumes and textiles.If you can,visit this magical little place on a Sunday as the cofradias (Mayan religious brotherhoods)
often hold processions,chanting and burning incense, around the narrow,cobbled streets of the church of Santo Tomas and inside the church itself.
The church of Santo Tomas dating from 1540 is a fascinating mixture of Catholic and Mayan religious practices.
The Festival of Saint Thomas just before Christmas takes place in quite a dream like an other-wordly atmosphere. A lot of alcohol is consumed! It's a riotous, vibrant festival where the highland Indians pour into Chichi to celebrate with music and dance. Firecrackers, the sound of drums, incense wafting around the atmospheric, winding streets and effigies of patron saints being paraded around make for a really special and intense experience.
Buses and shuttles travel to Guatemala City and Antigua daily. On market days you can get a shuttle bus from Panajachel on Lake Atitlan (37 kilometres, takes 1.5 hours).
See also International Telephone Calls
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