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Dates of visit:
March 28, 2006 -
April 18, 2006

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Mayan ruins
 Jungles
 Caribbean coast
 Indian cultures
 Markets
 Semana Santa
 Sawdust carpets
 Processions
 Church ruins
 Volcanoes
 Dirt poor
 

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*** Guatemala City ***
*** Esquipulas & The Black Christ ***
*** Mayan Ruins of Quirigua ***
Go to first page - Guatemala - Country & Culture
Go to third page - Rio Dulce, Livingston, Flores & Santa Elena, Tikal Ruins
Go to fourth page - La Antigua, Popenoe House, Chichicastenango, Panajachel
Go to fifth page - Semana Santa (Holy Week) Sawdust Carpets & Processions
        Guatemala City
        Location of Guatemala City
        Site Gallery - Guatemala City
        Esquipulas and The Black Christ
        Location of Esquipulas
        Site Gallery - Esquipulas and The Black Christ
        Mayan Ruins of Quirigua
        Location of Quirigua
        Site Gallery - Mayan Ruins of Quirigua
Guatemala City
Palacio NacionalGuatemala's capital city is the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Central America. Fast paced and vibrant, Guatemala City (or Guate as it's referred to locally) is a wonderful blend of old and new and possesses a distinct Latin charm. Today, Guatemala City has two million inhabitants. Its location, facilities and the International Airport "La Aurora" make it the starting point for visits to the rest of Guatemala.

Guatemala City was founded in 1776, after a devastating earthquake destroyed the former Spanish capital of Central America, "La Cuidad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala", known today as Antigua Guatemala (or simply Antigua). Sitting on top of three tectonic plates, Guatemala City is spread out in a valley with the Agua volcano reigning on its horizon.

Guatemala City has an active cultural life throughout the year. Most of the country's museums are to be found here. There are also more than 30 galleries showing Guatemalan artists in painting, photography, engraving and sculpture. Theaters present a wide range of plays, especially national playwrights.

Visitors interested in handicraft will find them in the Central Market, located a block away from the Cathedral. At the Central Market you will not only find unique Guatemalan handicrafts, but also see the colorful variety of local flowers, fruits andvegetables. The Relief Map in Minerva Park is a good place to see the extension of Guatemala and if you have never been to Paris you should visit "Torre el Reformador", the world's only scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Source: http://www.enjoyguatemala.com/guatemalacity.htm

For more on Guatemala City ... "Guatemala City" 'Guatemala City'   This is a PDF document  (19 Kb)


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Site Gallery - Guatemala City
 
General Views of the City
Guatemala City Guatemala City Guatemala City
Plaza de la Consitucion
Plaza Central Plaza Central Plaza Central
Mercado
Mercado Mercado Mercado
Mapa de Relieve
Mapa de Relieve Mapa de Relieve Mapa de Relieve

Esquipulas and The Black Christ
Esquipulas CathedralThe town of Esquipulas in the Chiquimula Department is one of the most significant in Central America. Second only in importance to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe outside Mexico City is the Basílica of Esquipulas with its Icon of the Black Christ that dates back to 1595. Pilgrims from all over Central America gather here. Esquipulas is also the seat of the Central American Parliament and, given its location just a short distance from the borders with Honduras and El Salvador, it has also been the place where several important peace agreements have been signed. The villages, forests and mountains of Mataquescuintla are home to the Pocomam Indians who produce some outstanding textiles and ceramics.

Church of the Black Christ, Esquipulas, Guatemala … In 1595, a statue of Christ on the Cross, carved from dark balsam wood, was installed in the church. It is not known specifically why the statue is dark. (Some people assume it is due to the centuries of candle smoke inside the church, but this is not the case. The smoke does not stain the clothing of the statue, and underneath the protective clothing the wooden skin is no less dark.) Most probably the dark color - it is not really black but rather a coffee brown - points to the strong pagan elements that infused and influenced early Colonial Christianity throughout Meso- and Central America. Christian pilgrimages to the church began shortly after 1737 when the Archbishop of Guatemala visited and went away cured of a chronic ailment. Local church authorities, knowing the enormous income statistics of vital European pilgrimage shrines, constructed a new church in 1758.

Situated about a mile from the old church of Santiago, the great white basilica was soon attracting pilgrims from all over Central America. While pilgrims journey to the shrine throughout the year, there are two periods when their numbers multiply greatly. One is for a week up to and culminating on January 15, the other is the week of Easter. During these times, upwards of a hundred thousand pilgrims descend upon the normally quiet mountain valley to adore the Black Christ. Great markets spring up, the hotels are over-filled, and people sleep in the church courtyard and along the city streets. These festivals are said to be the finest displays of native dress in all of Central America.

The primary goal of pilgrims during these two festivals is to have a few seconds in front of the Black Christ. Winding around and within the church is a long, constructed path upon which the pilgrims walk toward the sanctuary of the Dark Christ. It is traditional that one never turns one’s back to the Christ. That is why pilgrims leave the area of the icon by walking backwards. From early in the morning until late at night well over 10,000 people will be walking very slowly in this line, patiently waiting for their time with the venerated statue. Some pilgrims, possessed of great devotion or expressing intense prayers, will crawl - on their knees and elbows - the one-mile from the old church to the new. The basilica is not a particularly beautiful building nor does it have the fine carvings and lovely stained glass windows found in European pilgrimage churches.
Source: http://www.sacredsites.com/pilgrimages/latin_america/2/32398.html


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Site Gallery - Esquipulas and The Black Christ
 

Esquipulas Basilica
Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica
Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica
Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica
Mercado
Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica Esquipulas Basilica

Mayan Ruins of Quirigua
Quirigua Ruins Panorama
Qurigua StelaeThe archaeological site of Quirigua contains the largest stelae ever discovered in the Mayan world. It is one of the smallest Mayan cities, but one of the most notable due to its splendid series of monuments. Quirigua was probably founded in the Late Pre-Classic era and flourished until the 10th century, when it was abandoned for unknown reasons. Nine stelae are arranged around the central plaza, accompanied by altars carved into zoomorphic shapes. The largest of these, Stela E, is eight meters tall. The ruins are unrestored, but deciphered hieroglyphs from the stelae and altars tell a fascinating story of Quirigua's relationship with nearby Copan.
Source: http://www.enjoyguatemala.com/quirigua.htm


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Site Gallery - Mayan Ruins of Quirigua
 

Banana 'Finca'
Banana farm Banana farm Banana farm
"Banana Republic" 'Banana Republic'   This is a PDF document  (23 Kb)
Mayan Stelae & Ruins
Mayan Ruins Mayan Ruins Mayan Ruins
Mayan Ruins Mayan Ruins Mayan Ruins

Text partially extracted from the Internet sites referenced
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