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GUATEMALA POLITICAL DIVISION

1. Alta Verapaz
2. Baja Verapaz
3. Chimaltenango
4. Chiquimula
5. El Peten
6. El Progreso
7. El Quiché
8. Escuintla
9. Guatemala
10. Huehuetenango
11. Izabal
12. Jalapa
13. Jutiapa
14. Quetzaltenango
15. Retalhuleu
16. Sacatepéquez
17. San Marcos
18. Santa Rosa
19. Sololá
20. Suchitepéquez
21. Totonicapan
22. Zacapa

 

Alta Verapaz

The foothills of the Cuchumatan range are the defining geological feature of Alta Verapaz. This region, one of the greenest and wettest, extends northward along the altiplano. The administrative center of the department, Cobán, also known as the Imperial City, is an excellent point from which to visit the nearby towns and tourist attractions. Cobán's cathedral and convent constitute a magnificent example of colonial architecture.

Baja Verapaz

The plains descending from the Río Salamá valley create the Baja Verapaz, which is marked by river-cloven valleys and dry hills in a country of tropical vegetation as it extends southward. Excellent examples of religious images and altarpieces from the Hispanic period can be found in the colonial temples of the Baja Verapaz department. The colonial-style parish church of Salamá, the department capital, is a national monument.

Chimaltenango

Chimaltenango is characterized by its broken earth, deep ravines, beautiful valleys, and extensive plains. The Panamerican Highway runs through this department of mild climate which sits on a high mountain plateau of the Sierra Madre. The capital city of this department, in which Ixchimé and Mixco Viejo are located, is Chimaltenango.

Chiquimula

This department's major attraction is Villa de Esquipulas. Its impressive basilica, which holds a Black Christ Crucifix, is venerated by Guatemalans and foreigners alike, and it is without a doubt the main draw of the region. Also, in Chiquimula, the capital of the department, one of the busiest and largest markets can be visited on any day of the week.

El Petén


El Petén is a vast territory of savannas, swamps, and tropical jungles. It stretches from the south of Mexico, around Lacandón, to the mountains in the north of Belize. A great wildlife refuge, part of this territory remains virgin, and old silk-cotton trees and mahoganies co-exist here. Considered one of the lungs of the planet because of its exuberant vegetation, this department has many protected areas such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve with more than a million hectares of tropical rain forest. Flores, sitting on a picturesque lake island, is the department capital of El Petén. In El Petén, in addition to Tikal National Park, there are other archaeological sites of interest such as Uaxactún, Dos Pilas, Yaxhá, and Topoxté.

El Progreso

Integrated into the Guatemala por Descubrir range, the capital of the department of El Progreso is the municipality of the same name. In this territory numerous cactus species proliferate, and the dryness of the countryside contrasts with the tropical green color of the crops on the eastern side of the nation.

El Quiché


Valleys, peaks, deep ravines, and elevated plateaus comprise the topography of this rugged area whose rough terrain creates a great variety of striking natural sights. This is also one of the departments in which the mix of natural resources and cultural heritage are evident. Twelve miles (19 km.) away from Chichicastenango is the capital of the department of El Quiché, Santa Cruz del Quiché, which sits 6,560 feet above sea level (2,000 m.).

Escuintla

Escuintlá is the capital of the department of Escuintlá. In the municipality of La Democracia, nineteen miles away, there is a museum named Rubén Chávez Van Dorne, where giant Olmec heads found in nearby areas are on exhibit. Some Olmec-style monuments were found at a ranch called El Baúl, two-and-a-half miles from Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa.

Guatemala

The New Guatemala of the Assumption is the name of the current capital of The Republic, a center of commercial and cultural activities. This metropolis of more than three million people is a panorama of contrasts where colonial architecture mixes with modern buildings and where important museums and historical monuments present a unique experience for the visitor.

Principal places of interest in Guatemala City: The Metropolitan Cathedral: located in the Main Plaza, it was built according to neo-Classical architectural standards. It holds paintings, altarpieces, and expressive samples of colonial religious imagery.

The Cerrito del Carmen: considered a historical jewel, it possesses the first temple built in the Valley of the Chapel. Inaugurated in 1620, it displays a beautiful altarpiece in true colonial style. The Main Market: it is situated in back of the Metropolitan Cathedral, underneath the Plaza of the Tabernacle. Here, besides basic consumer goods, a great variety of handicrafts made throughout the country can be purchased: ceramics, textiles, leather goods, wood products, and silverwork.

Relief Map of Guatemala: made in 1904, it shows in detail the great altitude variations in the Republic of Guatemala. It occupies an area of approximately 2,160 square yards (1,800 sq. m.).

The National Palace: this is one of the great works of Guatemalan architecture. Its eclectic style is a mixture of Guatemalan colonial architecture with French and neo-Classical influences. It is one of the best expressions of Guatemalan artists of the 1940s.

Miguel Ángel Asturias Cultural Center: the cultural center is located in the city's civic center where there are buildings with murals painted by the great personalities of Guatemalan plastic art who first integrated art into architecture. It has a large opera house, a theater, an open-air theater, small plazas, rehearsal halls, workshops, conference rooms, and a museum of antique arms.

Centenary Park: Some fountains and an unusual musical kiosk accompany pleasant gardens here. Concord Park: This park is the best stage to enjoy the widest variety of street spectacles from puppet shows to pantomimes to evangelists, not to mention peddlers.

United Nations Park: Located to the north of Lake Amatitlán, recreational areas, forests, and a panoramic view all are here, in addition to an area in which reproductions of Guatemalan architectural monuments can be seen, like a colonial plaza, the Main Plaza of Tikal, and typical homes of the Guatemalan altiplano.

The Main Plaza constitutes the heart of the historical center of the city, and it is surrounded by significant monuments: the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Portal of Commerce, and the Centenary Park. A few steps away is the National Library, the Newspaper and Periodicals Library, and the General Archives of Central America. The principal museums of the city are the following: the Museum of Handicrafts, the Fray Francisco Vásquez Museum, the Native Clothing Museum, the Archaeology and Ethnology Museum, the National Modern Art Museum, the Arts and Popular Industries Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Popol Vuh Museum.

Huehuetenango

This land of stunningly beautiful countrysides and high mountains has been inhabited for time immemorial by different indigenous groups. Huehuetenango, a Nahualt name meaning the City of the Ancient Ones, is the capital of the Huehuetenango department, and it is built over what was once a suburb of the Mam Kingdom capital in the pre-Conquest period.

Izabal

Located in the wet Tropics, the department of Izabal is the essence of the Guatemalan Caribbean. This land of plains and hills is flanked by the incredible Sarstún and Motagua Rivers. In the fertile valley near the banks of the Motagua River, Quiriguá flourished. This magnificent city of the Ancient Maya Empire is today one of the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. The capital of the department is Puerto Barrios.

Jalapa

This department is famous for its glazed pottery. In the central park of Jalapa, the capital of the department, there is an interesting, ancient petrified tree.

Jutiapa

Located in the Guatemala por Descubrir range, this department's capital is Jutiapa, one of the most important commercial and transportation centers in an area which produces tobacco, coffee, sugarcane, and dairy products. In this department, located on the El Salvador-Guatemala border, is Lake Güija, a refreshing spot in an otherwise hot climate.

Quetzaltenango

In the nation's Southwest, extending from the cold altiplano to the hot Pacific Coast, is the department of Quetzaltenango, famous for having the oldest colonial buildings in the nation, as it was here that the first conquistadores settled. This lovely department also stands out for its impressive and varied geography; numerous volcanoes, hot springs, valleys, mountains, and rivers allow for the production of an assortment of crops like coffee, wheat, and vegetables as well as for cattle and sheep raising.

Retalhuleu

The department capital, Retalhuleu, can be found at kilometer 184 on the International Pacific Highway. Its ancient parish church is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the department. In the municipality of Al Asintal, nine miles away (15 km.), is Abaj Takalik, an interesting archaeological site among whose superb archaeological pieces are some from the oldest glyptic year of the New World. In the south of the department of Retalhuleu is the municipality of Champerico which has black-sand beaches and one of the most important ports in the southern part of the Republic.

Sacatepéquez

This country of lush vegetation is at the mercy of rough, sudden changes: two of the main faults of the continent are found in this area. The capital of the department is the city of Antigua.

San Marcos

Este departamento es famoso porque posee el pico más alto del país y de Centroamérica: El volcán Tajumulco . Su cabecera de departamento es San Marcos.

Santa Rosa

This department is famous for having the highest peak in the country and all of Central America: Tajumulco Volcano. San Marcos is the department capital.

Sololá

Located in the western part of the nation, Sololá is characterized by its indigenous folklore and traditions. Under clouds and volcanoes, the Tzutuhil and the Cakchiquel, ethnic groups of Mayan descent, carry on with their traditional indigenous culture. Handicrafts, especially fabric-making, are their principal industry. The capital of the Sololá department is the city by the same name.

Suchitepéquez

The city of Mazatenango, department capital, is a recommended visit, as is the municipality of San Antonio Suchitepéquez, seven miles away (11 km.). Located here is the largest sugar refinery of the Republic: Ingenio Palo Gordo.

Totonicapán

Because this is one of the highest departments of the country, it is also one of the coldest. The beautiful religious and civic buildings preserved here coupled with the fact that the inhabitants of the area still carry out religious rituals passed down from their ancestors make Totonicapán one of the main draws for tourism. The department capital is Totonicapán.

Zacapa

Heading towards the Zacapa department on the Panamerican Highway, enormous tobacco plantations and vineyards can be visited. Zacapa, the department capital, offers hotels, restaurants, and spas with restrooms for guests. Zacapa is known for its parish church, named San Pedro de Zacapa

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