It is located 145 kms from Guatemala City in the department of Quiché, the meaning of its name is “place of Nettles”, was founded by Quichés fleeing the destruction of Utatlán. They settled in the vicinity of Chaviar, Kackchiquel commercial Emporium. It is the center of the town and the commercial life of the “Maxeños” (the name given to the inhabitants of Chichicastenango, derived from Max, which means Tomás in the Quiché language).
The merchants come down on Thursdays and Sundays, to the central square to sell their items, in an impressive indigenous market, which has little varied for centuries. In this location we will find the church of Santo Tomás built in 1540 on archaeological remains of a pre-Hispanic temple, which represents a splendid example of colonial architecture. The indigenous and Ladino rites are mixed in the suburbs and inside.
Its 18-tier staircase is of importance for the practice of indigenous rituals, by Chuchkajau Mayan priests, who pray and burn corn cobs full of copal. Inside, whole families kneel and pray before the altars, loaded with candles, candle-makers, flower offerings, alcohol and in some cases food. We will also find the Calvary of the Buried Lord, his architecture presents characteristics similar to those of the churches of the Altiplano. In its stands, the soothsayers gather to give solace to the “Maxeños” Cerro Pascual Abaj also known as “Turcaj”. It’s one of the many elevations of Chichicastenango. In this place there are religious manifestations of profound tradition: ceremonies and ancestral rites dedicated to Pascual Abaj (stone deity), in which Spanish Catholicism and ancestral Mayan religiosity are founded.