Chichicastenango’s Cemetery

Chichicastengo's colorful cemetery is well worth a visit if you're in town for the famous market day.

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

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Local shaman perform a traditional K’iche’ Maya ceremony using censers with smoldering incense and copal resin. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

You can tell from the smoke stains on the structure to the right that such ceremonies are frequent. Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

Photo by David Coleman. How to license & download this image.

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 traveling solo.

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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.

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