Chichicastenango’s Cemetery

Chichicastengo's colorful cemetery is well worth a visit if you're in town for the famous market day.
Colorful Chichicastengo cemetery
This post may include affiliate links.
Click here for more information.

If you’re headed into the Guatemalan highlands town of Chichicastenango, chances are you’re going for the famous market day. While you’re there, it’s worth dropping by the town’s cemetery just down the hill a little.

The town is not very big, so the cemetery isn’t either, but it sure is colorful. Its brightly painted tombs and crosses stand out vividly on the hillside. The effect is quite different from something like stark white of the cemetery in Granada, Nicaragua.

Like local churches such as Iglesia de Santo Tomas, next to the market, the cemetery is mixed-use, serving both Catholic and indigenous K’iche’ Maya religious communities.

If you come across smoke wafting through the cemetery, that’s likely local shaman performing traditional K’iche’ Maya ceremonies using bonfires and censers with smoldering incense and copal resin.

Photos of Chichicastenango’s Cemetery

Brightly colored graves at Chichicastengo cemetery
Photo © David Coleman /
Traditional Maya ceremony with incense and copal resin smoke in Chichicastengo
Local shaman perform a traditional K’iche’ Maya ceremony using censers with smoldering incense and copal resin. Photo © David Coleman /
Chichicastengo cemetery colorful gravesites
Photo © David Coleman /
Buildings at Chichicastengo cemetery
Photo © David Coleman /
Fire and smoke at Maya ceremony
Photo © David Coleman /
Chichicastengo cemetery crosses
Photo © David Coleman /
Maya ceremony in Chichicastengo's Cemetery
Photo © David Coleman /
Traditional Maya ceremony in Chichicastengo's cemetery
You can tell from the smoke stains on the structure to the right that such ceremonies are frequent. Photo © David Coleman /
Chichicastengo cemetery graves
Photo © David Coleman /
Mayan religious ceremony in Chichicastengo
Photo © David Coleman /
Smoke and fire as part of a K'iche' Maya ceremony at the cemetery in Chichicastengo, Guatemala
Photo © David Coleman /
The colorful headstones at Chichicastengo cemetery
Photo © David Coleman /
Maya shaman with censer
Photo © David Coleman /

Where Is It?

It’s just down the hill from the market area. As a commonsense personal safety precaution, it’s worth going with a local or guide, especially if you’re travelling solo.

Where to Next?

Travel Advice for Guatemala

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Guatemala (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information for Guatemala . You can find the British Government's here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Guatemala here.

Guidebooks for Guatemala

If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Guatemala. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.

Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Guatemala

I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.

But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.

These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Guatemala :

Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!

On This Page