Religious Tourism

There’s religion in the air in all of Guatemala’s streets and byways.

Church bells peal from the smallest towns, loudspeakers call the faithful in the countryside while the nearby shamans (traditional Maya religious authority), perhaps even in the depths of a cave, are practicing traditional Maya worships.

The 2002 canonization of Santo Hermano Pedro de Betancourt of colonial-day Antigua has created a Catholic pilgrim’s route. Holy Week in Guatemala is a mixture of surprising sights, sounds and smells. Fresh pine needles, richly colored sawdust and flower petals carpet procession routes while incense wafts over the heads of processioners and onlookers alike.

Holy Week has evolved into one of Guatemala’s most avidly sought and vividly remembered tourism and religious attractions, with processions winding through even the smallest town and villages, often to the accompaniment of firecrackers or overhead rockets. Guatemala’s unique miracle-working “Black Christ” draws people to Esquipulas in the hot and dry eastern part of the country.

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