(Also known as XELAJÚ OR XELA)
is a Southwest department. Famous because it has some of the oldest colonial
buildings in the country since it was here where the Spanish
Conquistadors first settled.
is notable given its geographic variety which includes numerous
volcanoes, thermal water beds, valleys, mountains and rivers, which
allows several crops to be planted here, such as coffee wheat, fruits
and vegetables, as well as breeding of livestock specially sheep.
department has an overall area of 1951 sq. kilometers (1219 sq. mi.)
whit a cool climate on the highlands and warm on the coastal area. The
languages and Mayan tongues spoken are, Spanish, Quiche and Mam.
the pre-Hispanic period, Quetzaltenango was a Quiche center called
XELAJÚ, meaning “Under ten hills”. Quetzaltenango is Nahuatl-origin,
word that means “Place of Quetzal birds”.
of the time of conquest tell that the conqueror of Guatemala informed
that when the Quiche prince Tecún Uman died, he was wearing and
emerald-green suit made of quetzal feathers when this lord was killing
the conqueror horse the Quiche warrior he got stab in the heart and the
legend says that a quetzal bird fall over his blood taking its chest red
feathers color from there, for which the newly founded
Spanish city was named Quetzaltenango.
city played an important role during the independence movement. In 1822,
the political leaders of the time swore their loyalty to the Mexican
emperor Iturbide. In 1838, Quetzaltenango became part of the State of
Los Altos (The highlands), as sixth member of the Central American
the end of XVIII century, the coffee plantations became relevant and the
department prospered. In 1902, the Santa Maria volcano erupted, and the
earthquakes produced, partially destroyed the city.
some neo-classical buildings still remain.
As part of the tours offered you can visit the ghost city near by
covered by the volcano ashes in much the way as a modern Pompey.
It is currently considered as the second most important city of
Guatemala, due to its size, industrial, cultural and commercial activity. It has
preserved its colonial architecture.
Is considered the biggest Mayan modern city in the country.
neo-classical buildings can be seen, among which are those located
around the Centro America Park, considered the heart of the city. East
of the plaza lies the Espiritu Santo (holly spirit) Cathedral with its
two facades. The first one constructed in 1535, is very
ornamented, and latter one is neo-classical style, forms part of a
structure made of several domes which dates back to 1899.
the south end of the park is another building with such characteristics,
called La Casa de la Cultura, where the Natural History Museum is
housed, and which contains a collection of pre-Hispanic pieces and
is also the site of the information Office of the Guatemalan Tourism
Board, or INGUAT.
Municipal Theater is located at 1st street, between 14th
and 14th avenues, and is decorated with several busts of
inclined stone-covered streets that that rise and fall, red-roofed
houses, parks and churches, and mansions built by the rich local coffee
growers are part of the urban Landscape of the city.
the outskirts of the city is located the Cerro el Baul, from where one
can get a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding mountains.
as this city is known, has an altitude of 2,333 meters above sea level
and has a cold and humid climate.
most important celebration that takes place at the city, is the city
fair, which runs from September 12th to the 18th,
with the famous Central American Floral Parade.
is located 206 kilometers ( 128 miles) from Guatemala City, and is reach
by taking the Pan-American East highway, or 234 kilometers via the
international Pacific highway.
surroundings include several villages and tourist sites, of Quiche and
Mam origin, and that have several small plazas with amazing
colonial-style churches, where the tourist can appreciate the
agricultural and handcraft richness of the region on market days.
this reason, it is recommended that this city be used as an operations
center for the Mayan highlands.
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