Guatemala is a country rich in culture and abundant nature with attractions that invite visitors to discover an integral conception of an ancestral, mystical and holistic legacy; able to encourage the visitor to enjoy the historical, harmonic, spiritual, natural and experiential components in the communities of the country.
These experiences are combined with the animation and hospitality of the people, who preserve the cultural and natural heritage, sharing their lifestyle, work in harmony, traditional knowledge and customs.
Guatemala invites to know the culture by means of the own richness of the indigenous peoples, motivating the visitor to know the worldview of the peoples and to enjoy the nature combined with the microclimates, the picturesque sceneries, the exuberant richness of Flora and fauna, and trails that offer a unique adventure.
The country has a diversity of traditional and non-conventional activities typical of the sociocultural dynamics of the indigenous populations which are constituted in tourist destinations, thus giving a relationship between the tourist and the destination itself.
Guatemala presents to the world its tourist destinations, which are available for all those who want to enjoy an adventure in this wonderful country, which fills all kinds of expectations. Mayan Sacred Temples, museums, archeological sites, natural reserves, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, local communities and markets, make the visit to Guatemala unforgettable.
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Guatemala is known for being a territory in which it developed much of the Mayan culture, one of the greatest cultures of the humanity with an amazing ancestral legacy and of great constructions.
The present preserve the legacy of their ancestors, celebrate their culture and coexist with others like the Garifuna, the Xinca and the mestizo, rich in worldview and tradition.
- Garifuna people: They arrived more than two centuries ago to Guatemalan lands, they have their own language, their own gastronomy, their costumes and their dances worthy of admiration. The majority of this culture is found in Izabal.
- Pueblo Xinca: One of the non-Mayan indigenous peoples of Guatemala with its own worldview, culture, identity and language. The Xinca people are currently a group of four linguistic variants linked in the departments of Jutiapa, Jalapa and Santa Rosa.
- Mayan people: More than three thousand years ago, the ancient Mayas left a unique legacy full of knowledge reflected in monuments of great cultural importance. The knowledge in the tissues, the Mayan medicine, the dynamics of life, the culinary art and its worldview are within the reach of the tourist.
Based on the ceremonies are the sacred places. Whether they are natural or built, they are vital spaces of confluence of cosmic energy, places where the human being communicates with the creator and trainer, with the cosmos, the ancestors and allows to develop permanent links with the environment in general for balance in life of the human being.
Laguna de Chicabal – San Martín Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango
– Cueva de Chicoy – Purulhá, Baja Verapaz
– Cerro de Kaj Juyub – Rabinal, Baja Verapaz
– Parque Arqueológico Takaliq A’baj – El Asintal Retalhuleu
– Sitio sagrado K’umarcaaj – Quiche
– Sitio sagrado Belejeb Tzi’ – Quiche
– IximcheTecpán – Chimaltenango
– Kaminal Juyú – ciudad de Guatemala
– Sitio Arqueológico Mixco Viejo – ciudad de Guatemala
– Parque Arqueológico Quiriguá – Los Amates, Izabal
– Parque Arqueológico de Tikal – Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico – Ceibal, Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico Ixlu – Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico Ixkun – Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico Uaxantún – Petén
– Complejo Arqueológico Yaxhá – Petén
– Cuevas de Naj Tunich – Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico – El Mirador, Petén
– Sitio Arqueológico Nakbé – Petén
– Sitio arqueológico Iximche – Técpan, Chimaltenango
– La Acrópolis de El Baúl – Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla
– Complejo de Zaculeu – Huehuetenango
– Parque Arqueológico Quiriguá – Los Amates, Izabal
The religiosity of the Guatemalans is breathed in every moment that is lived in Guatemala, with the sound of church bells in the small towns that call the families to attend the masses and activities of the church or the Xamanes who practice their religiosity accompanied by nature but sharing their traditions and customs with their people.
The Religious Tourism of Guatemala is one of the richest experiences for foreigners since it can be found in almost all the country. In addition, its rich history envelops visitors in a mystical atmosphere, creating a unique experience.
You can participate in pilgrimage routes for Catholics, such as Brother Pedro de Betancourt who was a religious of the days of the Colony and who was canonized in 2002.
For its part, Holy Week in Guatemala is a surprising mix of symbols, sounds and aromas. Colorful carpets made of dyed sawdust, flowers, foliage and grains under the perfume of incense, mark the way, in cities and towns, of the typical processions of the time. Holy Week has become one of the tourist and religious attractions most remembered and sought by tourists from around the world.
The Religious Tourism of Guatemala has traditions of over 400 years with pilgrimages and pilgrimages that are made through different access routes and made by nationals and Central Americans as well as Mexicans.
The city of Esquipulas is an important part of Religious Tourism as it receives an estimated 3 million annual visitors to its city. There are records of an approximate of 32 traditional national and foreign pilgrimages a year, which makes it a destination and icon of religious tourism.
As a complement to the activities, visits to basilicas or sanctuaries have been carried out in departments such as Chiquimula, Alta Verapaz, Quetzaltenango and La Antigua Guatemala. These visits full of mysticism offer history, architecture and colonial beauty.
Within Religious Tourism there are three celebrations that attract foreign pilgrims.
- Novena to the Lord of Esquipulas in the month of January, with pilgrimages from all over Mesoamerica.
- Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala, one of the largest parties in the country that offers colorful rugs, cuisine and processional processions.
- October, month of the Holy Rosary in the Basilica of the Virgin of the Rosary of the temple of Santo Domingo with pilgrimages that arrive from different parts of the country.
- Hermano Pedro
It is a journey of spiritual and mystical reflection, which represents the places where Saint Brother Pedro of San José de Betancur carried out a variety of works and activities to help the abandoned and low-income people who were the scene of his life, can be known through the route of the Pilgrim’s Route in Antigua Guatemala. Brother Pedro requested prayers at night, through the streets of Santiago de Guatemala, in favor of the souls of purgatory, while he rang a bell and repeated the famous refrain: “Remember brothers we have a soul; and if we lose it … we do not recover it “.
- Pedro Armengol Looms
It was the first place where Santo Hermano Pedro worked. He entered the work of cloth and rustic cloth, playing the role of weaver, sharing his life with the almost 400 forced from the prisons of the city. Here he began his evangelizing task, by example, teaching with love the devotional prayers and the Holy Rosary, urging his companions to rectify their mistakes in order to lead a dignified life. The looms suffered considerable damages by the earthquake of 1,773, reason why nowadays they are in ruins; These are 1 km away. approximately to the East of Antigua Guatemala, National Route 10. At present it is private property and are closed to the public.
- Monument to the Hermano Pedro and Puente del Matasanos
The old arch supported a bridge that served to cross the Pensive River upon entering the city, the monument recalls the site of the original bridge, demolished in the mid-twentieth century. On February 18, 1651, the Holy Brother Pedro crossed the bridge and kneeling kissed the ground, saying “here I have to live and die”. At that moment the earth shook and an earthquake struck. He thought it was because of him, because a great sinner came to the city. The monument recalls the site of the original bridge, demolished in the mid-twentieth century and marks the place where the narrative happened. At the moment this place is in the public road and a sculpture in its memory and a esquisúchil tree can be appreciated.
- Royal Hospital of Santiago
Founded by the first bishop of Guatemala, Monsignor Francisco Marroquín, approximately in the year 1553 to attend to Spaniards and mulattoes under the care of the religious of San Juan de Dios. Here Brother Pedro was imprisoned to recover after walking the road between Puerto Trujillo in Honduras and Santiago de Guatemala. The building was severely damaged by the earthquakes of 1773, which caused its abandonment. Here the Holy Brother Pedro learned in the school of experience to be charitable, because during the time he was sick in this hospital he observed what the people who did not have who helped them suffered. At present it is private property and there is no public income.
- Temple of Our Señora de la Merced
The Holy Brother Pedro attended this church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, mainly at night time. According to information, the temple’s father provided him with the key to the door so that he could enter at the time he could. On Thursday the Saint Brother Pedro participated dressed as a Nazarene with a cross on his back in the Procession of Penitents, which left at midnight. Currently, the Church of La Merced is visited by the devout faithful. Visit to the temple: Monday to Sunday from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00. Free entrance.
- Church and convent of the company of Jesus (Ibero-American Training Center, Spanish cooperation)
In the year 1625, the fourth largest college ran under the name of Colegio de San Lucas. This granted academic degrees to students in Theology and Philosophy. Brother Pedro entered the school with the intention of being a priest, but difficulties with studying the learning of Latin and the lack of identification documents, made him desist.
Father Manuel Lobo, a Jesuit priest, was a confessor, spiritual guide and executor of Brother Pedro’s testament. The mural painting of the temple is considered the largest in the ancient Kingdom of Guatemala. Currently, the Ibero-American Training Center and the Workshop School for Workers, both from the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation, operate here.
Open Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Main Plaza
In this place in honor of Santo Hermano Pedro three trees of Esquisúchil were planted, today known as the tree of Santo Hermano Pedro.
- Palace of the Noble City Hall
The current building was inaugurated in November 1743, on the site where the previous buildings of the town hall of the city were. On April 7, 1799, it became the seat of the municipality of La Antigua Guatemala.
On the upper floor of the palace is the Hall or Hall of the Cabildo, whose main furniture is made up of the chairs and table occupied by the Municipal Corporation during ordinary sessions and ceremonial events. The chair destined to the Municipal Mayor has a carved back with a commemorative inscription to Saint Brother Pedro that exalts his life, virtues and works. Hours: from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- San José Cathedral
The Cathedral witnessed the expressions of fervor of Saint Brother Peter towards the Blessed Sacrament, during the procession of the Octave of Corpus Christi, which crowned the Plaza Mayor, he had his cloak flipped from a flag that tied to a pole danced and recited couplets in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Free admission to the temple: Monday to Sunday from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00 hrs. The Ruins have an entrance cost.
- Street of the Steps
It runs from North to South from the San Francisco El Grande Church to the Ermita del Santo Calvario. There are 10 chapels that mark stations of the Way of the Cross established according to the Franciscan tradition. It measures 1,322 steps, the same distance traveled by Jesus with the cross on Good Friday, from the Praetorium to Calvary.
The Holy Brother Pedro had great devotion to the Passion of Jesus, as a penance on Friday nights, dressed as a Nazarene and carrying a heavy cross on his shoulders performed his Way of the Cross in Calle de la Amargura, now Calle de los Pasos where he meditated on the mystery of Redemption. The place is located on the public road.
- Church School of Christ
Here lived Father Bernardino de Ovando, who was the spiritual guide of Saint Brother Pedro.
When Brother Pedro died that April 25, 1,667, many people wanted to express their veneration before his body but since the nursing room of the Casa de Belen was very small, Bishop Payo de Rivera determined that it was convenient that his remains be veiled in the Church of the School of Christ. The next day the procession went out through the Calle de los Pasos to the Church of San Francisco El Grande to celebrate the Eucharist and to bury him in accordance with his testament.
At present the School of Christ is the seat of the Parish of Our Lady of the Remedies. In its square there is a tree of Esquisúchil, planted in 1994.
Schedule: Every day from 09:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00 hrs. Free entrance.
- Hermitage of Santo Calvario
It was built at the southern end of the Calle de los Pasos by the Franciscan Tertiaries in the mid-seventeenth century. Here lived the Holy Brother Pedro, the decisive stage of his life, since he discovered the real reason why God had brought him to Guatemala. He recovered his joy and his apostolic and charitable zeal. Santo Hermano Pedro participated actively, performing the offices of supervisor and promoter of the work, doing it with will and humility.
In 1657 Pedro de la Rosa concluded the sculpture of Santo Cristo for the hermitage, the popular tradition calls it “El Cristo del Hermano Pedro”. On March 19 of that same year, Santo Hermano Pedro planted the Esquisúchil tree in its gardens.
Schedule: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday Closed.
- Hospital and Temple of Nuestra Señora de Belén
In this place was founded the first hospital for convalescents that there was in Latin America, and the first school of first letters for poor children and adults. Site where Brother Pedro lavished love and care for the sick and destitute who came to him in search of consolation.
To the west is located the old Plazuela de Belén, where after the Plaza a la Paz was built and the monument to Saint Brother Pedro with a plaque containing a prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Schedule: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 16:30 hrs. Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00 hrs.
- Beaterio or Beatas of Belén
In this temple of the Beatas, the Betlemite Sisters were established. The facade of the temple has in the niche the figure of Saint Brother Peter in an attitude of devotion to the birth of Jesus. You can see the exterior facade of the temple.
- Temple and Convent of San Francisco el Grande
In the interior of the temple is the tomb of Saint Brother Peter, today it is a place of pilgrimage to thank or request intervention.
South of the temple you can see the Franciscan Museum of Santo Hermano Pedro. It consists of three rooms: the colonial room, the hall of miracles and the room of Santo Hermano Pedro. The first contains vestiges of the splendor of the Franciscan temple, the second has the offerings that the faithful dedicated and the third keeps the relics, their and the portrait painted by Antonio Montufar, considered the oldest and faithful in terms of their physical appearance.
Schedule: Museum and colonial monument: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The museum has an entrance fee.
- Social Works of the Hermano Pedro
Today the social works occupy the old hospital for the clergy of San Pedro Apóstol, here, the Holy Brother Pedro visited the clergy who were in poor health. Social works are administered by the Order of the Franciscan Friars, a place where medical assistance, educational, spiritual, religious, moral and social formation of low-income people are offered, for which reason today it is the heart of evangelical inspiration of the faith.
Hours of service for visits:
From Monday to Saturday from 08:00 to 10:00 and from 14:00 to 15:00.
The visits are made by appointment.
- Holy Route of the Pilgrim
With a tradition of more than 400 years, pilgrimages or pilgrimages have arrived from different geographical points of Mesoamerica towards the Religious Destiny of Esquipulas using different routes of access and in various means of mobilization, being the most traditional and recognized in recent years and since the 1970s the asphalt route to the Atlantic specifically CA-9 and CA-10.
With an average annual visit of 1.2 million pilgrims who pass in front of the Camarín del Santo Cristo in the Basilica and an estimated 3 million annual visitors to the city of Esquipulas in general, 32 traditional national and foreign pilgrimages have been registered. which an estimated 60% of them pass through the CA-9 and CA-10 routes considering the traditional points of origin and arriving from different points of Guatemala as well as the neighboring countries of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador throughout the year.
It can not be ruled out also the tourist and merchandise traffic that circulates daily to or from the borders of El Florido, Agua Caliente and La Ermita as well as from different regions of Guatemala through the Verapaces, Guatemalan Caribbean, Petén, the rest of the Oriente and the capital city of Guatemala where traffic arrives from the western and southern regions of the country.
The Pilgrim’s Holy Route integrates 13 municipalities along the routes CA-9 and CA-10 linking 3 departments of the Mystic and Natural East Region that are El Progreso, Zacapa and Chiquimula.
- Bak´tunes routes
In the tropical rainforest south of Peten and on the banks of the Passion River, is Ceibal, one of the most important and largest cities in the region. On the site you can still see very thin and well preserved temples and stelae.
To get to the park you can take a bus or take a boat trip on the La Pasión river, ideal to enjoy the tranquility of the Petenan jungle. In addition you can see some animals such as crocodiles, turtles, herons and hawks. Once on the site you will find pyramids, ceremonial temples, houses and a complex of astronomical observation, all surrounded by the song of the birds, howler monkeys and the exuberant tropical jungle.
In addition, in Ceibal there are five stelae that commemorate the end of 9 Bak’tun and the beginning of 10 Bak’tun. These are one of the main attractions of the site because they are the finest and best preserved of the Late Classic period, they are located in the central square of the site, in a pyramidal temple.
- National Park Tikal
Declared a Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, the Tikal National Park houses the remains of the largest and most important city in the prehispanic history of the Maya, as well as 550 square kilometers of exuberant tropical forest, home to a great diversity of species of flora and fauna.
The Tikal National Park is located in the north of Guatemala, in the department of Petén, 495 km from Guatemala City and only 64 km from the city of Flores, Petén.
- Archaeological Park Uaxactún
The Uaxactun Archaeological Park is located near Tikal, in the Petén department, and is surrounded by 47 hectares of tropical jungle in the Maya Lowlands. In addition to its unparalleled natural beauty, Uaxactún was an important center for the development of art in monuments during the Pre-Classic period. The great importance of this city is reflected in the development of monumental art that occurred there, a fact that is evidenced by the largest masks of the Mayan territory.
Currently, the Astronomical Observation Complex of Uaxactun continues to have great importance for the Mayans in the performance of ceremonies. Here we continue to commemorate the equinoxes and solstices every year during the Festival of Uaxactún.
- Yaxhá National Park – Nakum – Naranjo
The Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park is an extensive park where four Mayan cities are located: Yaxha, Nakum, Naranjo and Topoxte Island. It is also a wetland of worldwide importance and habitat for a great variety of migratory birds.
The ancient Mayan city of Yaxha, is located on the banks of the lagoons of Yaxha and Sacnab and presents an incomparable landscape. This city reached its greatest development during the Early Classic, maintaining an important role in the Mayan World for more than 1500 years.
In Yaxha you can see architectural sets that mark the solar cycle (solstices and equinoxes). There is also a complex of twin pyramids, similar to that found in Tikal, which were used to commemorate the cycles called K’atun of the long count calendar.
The cities of this park are still of great importance and are visited by different Mayan groups to perform religious ceremonies.
- El Mirador
El Mirador is a spectacular site where you can appreciate great diversity of natural resources, as well as the largest Mayan pyramid in the world. The Mayans who lived in El Mirador developed systems of writing, astronomy, mathematics and agriculture, among others, making them a very sophisticated culture a thousand years earlier than previously thought.
Among the temples and monuments of this site is the highest pyramid of the Mayan World, the Pyramid of the Danta. In addition, astronomical observatories and triadic groups have been discovered, which have a main pyramid and two small ones that symbolize creation according to Mayan mythology.
- Archaeological Park Takalik Abaj
Located in the municipality of Retalhuleu, between slopes of volcanoes and mountains of the Pacific, this site stands out as much for its natural beauty as for its archeology and history.
Tak’alik Ab’aj played a very important role in the commerce of the region before being dominated by the K’iche’s during the Postclassic. In the monuments of this site you can see representations of the Olmec culture and trends of the beginning of the Mayan style traditions. Among these you can find evidence of the origins of the Mayan calendar and its relationship with astronomy.
Tak’alik Ab’aj remains a ceremonial site of great importance for the Mam and K’iche’s, who still come to the site to perform blessing ceremonies for their crops and family.
- Iximche Archaeological Park
This archaeological park is considered sacred for the Kaqchiqueles of the Guatemalan highlands. It is known as a place of Mayan pilgrimage and rituals.
Iximche is located in the municipality of Tecpán, in Chimaltenango, 40 km from the departmental capital, 56 km from Antigua Guatemala and 91 km from the capital city.
- Kaminal Juyú Archaeological Park
In the city of Guatemala is the archaeological site KaminalJuyu. This was a very important trade center for the Mesoamerican region from the Preclassic to the Postclassic period. Although much of the old K’iche ‘city has been destroyed by the
urbanization of modern Guatemala City, you can still find part of this site in zone 7 of the capital.
- Quiriguá Archaeological Park
Quiriguá is not only recognized for having the largest and best conserved stelae in the Mayan world, but also houses a great diversity of species typical of the rainforest north of the Motagua River. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981 for its natural and cultural importance.
In the Plaza de Juego de pelota de Quiriguá there is a zoomorfo that narrates how the city was founded under the supervision of the founder of Copán, ‘Mo’ K’inich Yax K’uk.