Quetzaltenango, with a size of 1,951 square kms. , is one of the most beautiful and prosperous departments of Guatemala. It is located in the southwestern part of the country. Its climate ranges from cold in the highlands to hot and humid in the south. Volcanoes, mountains, rivers, valleys and thermal water places are part of its remarkable geography, which make Quetzaltenango beautiful and interesting. This territory is famous since it is one of the first areas the Spaniards occupied upon their arrival and it has the oldest colonial buildings in the country. Talking about its history, it is important note that Quetzaltenango played a significant role in the independence of Guatemala. Afterwards, Quetzaltenango is prosperity and economic power were based on the coffee plantations that countrywide assumed great relevance. This economic power was wounded during the year 1902, when the coffee was to some extent destroyed by the eruption of the city of Quetzaltenango.
Quetzaltenango is also called “Xelayú”, it is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes and it conserves much of its visible colonial structural design in its buildings and streets. Through the contrast of classic, neoclassic and Italian renaissance styles with modern architecture.
Quetzaltenango offers many interesting places to visit; “The Cathedral of the Sacred Spirit” is one of them. This church has two exteriors designs. The first of them was constructed in the year 1535 and the second was built in the Neoclassicist style of 1899. The America Plaza, The University of San Carlos, the Municipal Theater and Passage of Enriquez are other attractive sites to visit, not forgetting the Hill of Trunk with a magnificent view of the city and the mountains surrounding it.
Just like Antigua Guatemala, Quetzaltenango (Xela) has calendars of cultural events every month; on each first Sunday of every month a very important event takes place where the crafts and traditional art of Quetzaltenango is exhibited the Central American Park, “The Market of Crafts”. Crafts sales, traditional music concerts and performances of folkloric groups, not only from the city but also from the surroundings villages, are all part of this event.
Places to Visit
Quetzaltenango (Xela) has many small villages, which all have their own characteristic that distinguish them from one another, not only in their crafts but also in their customs. Among the most outstanding villages there are: Almolonga, Cantel, Coatepeque, Olintepeque, Salcaja, San Juan Ostuncalco and Zunil.
(5km. From Xelajú) stands out for the great variety of fruits and vegetables that are harvested there; here you can find the “Aguas Amargas” and “El Rosario” thermal water fountainheads. Market Days: Wednesday and Saturday. Local public holiday: June 27th to 29th.
(13 km. From Xelajú) Is very well known for its textile production. The biggest and older producers of traditional textiles of the country are found here. Market Day: Sunday Local public holiday: August: 15.
(40 km. From Xelajú) Is one of the most important agricultural areas due to its fertile soil thanks to rivers and creeks. Producer of coffee, fruits and grains, Coatepeque possesses an extensive share in the national trade and export industry. Local public holiday: July 25.
(7km from Xelajú) According to history it was in this town where the Quiche-Prince Tecún Umán died in the battle against Pedro de Alvarado in 1524. Market Day: Tuesday. Local public holiday: June 24.
(9 km. From Xelajú) Here the first of the religious constructions of the General Captaincy of the Kingdom, the church of “San Juan Jacinto” is found. Salcaja is also famous for its fabrics in jasper and its “Caldo de Frutas” liquor typical of the region.