Lake Atitlán & Chichicastenango
Mayas between yesterday and today
Lake Atitlán is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Continuing volcanism has built three volcanoes in the caldera. Volcán Atitlán, Volcán San Pedro and Volcán Tolimán. The lake is surrounded by 14 villages, in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn, and where Mayan dialects are first language. The Maya of Atitlán are predominantly Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel. Santiago Atitlán is the best known of the lakeside villages, and is noted for its worship of Maximón, an idol formed by the fusion of traditional Mayan saints, Catholic saints and conquistador legends. An effigy of Maximón resides in a different house each year, being moved in a grand procession during Semana Santa.
Chichicastenango is known for its traditional Maya Indian culture and home to the most colorful native market in North and Central America, which takes place twice a week. It draws not only the K'iche' Maya of the surrounding region, but vendors from all over Guatemala.