If exploring Guatemala's ruins is the best way to understand its astonishing history, then touring its traditional markets is the perfect way to see how this past continues to thrive.
The most famous Indian market in the country, and indeed in Central America, is the twice-weekly Chichicastenango in the Guatemalan highlands north of Lake Atitlán. This market throngs with locals and tourists alike, perusing the colourful Mayan textiles, handicrafts, flowers, pottery, food and more on sale from vendors who often travel from other areas to join the spectacle. The sights, sounds and smells of Chichicastenango will leave a lasting impression on you long after you depart Guatemala and, as an added bonus, next to the market is the 400 year old Santo Tomás church.
On the shores of the magical lake of the same name is Santiago de Atitlán, a traditional village with distinctive weavings and primitive art. The town comes alive on market day, when locals, many dressed in traditional Mayan clothing, come to shop, socialise and sell in a colourful, fragrant and photogenic collection of flowers, vegetables, textiles and more. It is an authentic insight into local life around the lake.
The beautiful colonial city of Antigua is another great place to experience this side of Guatemalan culture. Street markets burst with colourful Mayan weavings, souvenirs and fruit and vegetables, whilst within easy reach are smaller and more traditional weaving villages.
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