Chichi Market Guatemala

Chichi Market


Chichicastenango or locally referred to as just “Chichi” is a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. The town is a 3 ½ hour drive from Guatemala City. Chichi is known for its beautiful church and market that is full of colourful flowers, an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables and more handmade crafts than you will see anywhere else in the country. Chichi’s market is only open on Thursday and Sunday. If you are visiting Guatemala this is one town and market not to miss. The town is perched on top of a mountain and to get there you need to take a windy, twisty road that take you back and forth and back and forth up the mountainside.

Locals and visitors have rated the market as the best handicraft market in the entire country.The market spreads through the streets of Chichi and up to the stairs that lead to the centuries-old church. A maze of stalls filled the streets from one side to the other and from block to block.

Chichi Market Guatemala

flickr image by gregw66

The twice a week market has been in this community for more than 800 years, but foreigners have only been visiting for the last 35 to 40. The traditions and customs of the local community are fascinating. The majority of people dress in typical clothing with designs on the women’s blouses and men’s shirts that identify what community they are from.

The products for sale are endless. Tableclothes, table runners, placemats, shirts, hand carved wooden fruits and more all made with incredible detail. Wooden masks are sold in numerous stalls throughout the market and this area is known throughout the country for their masks. Each mask is different and is painted with bright colors.

The flowers will amaze you with their color and variety. From the ordinary to the incredibly exotic, all shapes, sizes, colors and textures can be found here. If grains are what you want, then this market is your place to be. Vendors sell three to four types of beans, rice, lentils and much more. They are displayed in large burlap bags and their many colors make for a checkerboard affect.

As you walk through the market, vendors call out to you to check out their products, offering the best prices for the best products in the market. They are eager to sell but know when to stop pressuring to not offend a potential buyer.

Most people that know about Chichi have heard of its market but another landmark to visit is the Santo Tomas Cathedral, which was constructed in 1540. You will see up close some of the rituals that the peopleperform as they spread flowers and pine needles over the floor at the entrance of the church. They kneel and pray amid candles that they have lit for a deceased loved one.

The national incense, Copal, is lit and left to give the area a wonderful aroma on the steps that lead from the market to the church. Weekly processions wind their way through the maze and to the base of the steps. The processions carry depictions of Christ and other religious figures and are accompanied by music, incense and fireworks.

Imagine seeing all the beautiful handmade crafts throughout the market; the colorful flowers and myriad of fruits and vegetables grown and sold locally; the wooden masks with their colorful faces; and then ascending the stairs to the church and through incense smoke and walking over a carpet of pines needles in flowers. There is no other place on earth like Chichi and it happens every Thursday and Sunday.

Date posted: 16th February, 2015

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