Quetzaltenango Tourist Attractions
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's second-largest city at 90,000 is the commercial center of southwestern Guatemala. More commonly called Xela (SHAY-lah), the town's major sights are the Parque Centroamerica and the neoclassical buildings which surround it. These buildings, such as the Municipal Theater and administrative buildings stem from the era in the 19th c when Xela was a major trading and artistic community.Many eco-tourism organizations offer hiking and camping in the mountains. Quetzaltenango's altitude of 2,333m /8,000 ft ensures warm days, cool nights and no mosquitoes.It is a base for excursions to the many nearby villages, noted for their hot springs and handicrafts.Quetzaltenango is well-known for its Spanish-language schools.
The village of Momostenango is famous for its artistic woolen blankets and other woolen products. Due to the low temperatures in the region, work in wool is very popular. Momostenango adheres to the Mayan Calendar and observes traditional rites.North of the village there are the hot springs of Pala Chiquito.
San Andres Xecul, Guatemala
A little indigenous village has the most colorful church in Guatemala. The canary-yellow church has paintings and carved figures of jaguars, angels and icons that are a mix of Mayan and Catholic beliefs.Its baroque façade seems to recreate the colors and designs of the local weaving.
San Francisco El Alto, Guatemala
San Francisco El Alto sits on a small plateau 2,568m/8,560 ft high, with a view Quetzaltenango valley.On Fridays, this town of 3,500 hosts the biggest market in Guatemala which sells everything that highland Guatemalans need including livestock and woolen blankets.
Chicabal Volcano and Lake
This volcano features a small lake with emerald green water in its crater.A sacred site for local inhabitants, the lake's forested shore has a number of moss-covered, wooden crosses placed among the trees.
Mountain Train Museum
The Museo del Ferrocarril de los Altos focuses on the railroad that once connected Xela with Retalheleu. Upstairs is a modern art museum plus schools of dance and marimba.
Quetzaltenango Central America Park
Neo-classical architecture surrounds the rectangular plaza known as El Parque Centroamerica, where many festivals, concerts, fairs, and markets are held throughout the year.
Santa Maria & Santiaguito Volcanoes
The Santa María Volcano, at an altitude of 3,734m /12,448 ft offers views of the Pacific Ocean, the Quetzaltenango valley and the rest of the volcanic chain. From the top can be seen the active Santiaguito Volcano at 2,460m/8,200 ft.
Los Vahos Hot Springs
A natural steam bath is available at Los Vahos (The Vapors) on a hill outside of Xela.
Minerva Park and Zoo
Parque Minerva has a children's playground and carnival rides plus a free but small zoo which shelters monkeys, birds, small carnivores and a jaguar.
The unusual Quetzaltenango Museum contains cultural, archeological and botanical exhibitions, and includes marimbas (Central-American xylophones) and stuffed birds.
Address: 7th Calle 11-09, Guatemala
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