Theme Week Guatemala – Quetzaltenango

Thursday, 28 October 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Rodrigobaaz/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Rodrigobaaz/cc-by-sa-4.0

Quetzaltenango, also known by its Maya name, Xelajú or Xela, is both the capital of Quetzaltenango Department and the municipal seat of Quetzaltenango municipality in Guatemala. Quetzaltenango has a population of 180,706 (2018 census). The population is about 61% indigenous or Amerindian, 34% Mestizo or ladino and 5% white Latin American. The city is located in a mountain valley at an elevation of 2,330 meters (7,640 feet) above sea level at its lowest part. It may reach above 2,400 m (7,900 ft) within the city. The Municipality of Quetzaltenango consists of an area of 122 km² (47 sq mi). Municipalities abutting the municipality of Quetzaltenango include Salcajá, Cantel, Almolonga, Zunil, El Palmar, Concepción Chiquirichapa, San Mateo, La Esperanza, and Olintepeque in Quetzaltenango department and San Andrés Xecul in Totonicapán department.

Historically, the city produced wheat, maize, fruits, and vegetables. It also had a healthy livestock industry. Livestock was exported throughout the country and to El Salvador. As of 1850, wheat was the largest export, followed by cacao, sugar, wool and cotton. The city has a system of micro-buses for quick and cheap movement. A micro-bus is essentially a large van stuffed with seats. Micro-buses are numbered based on the route they take (e.g., “ruta 7”). There is no government-run mass transport system in the city. The sole public means of transport is the bus or micro-buses. Transportation to other cities is provided by bus. Bicycling is a way to get around and to travel to (and in) rural areas. Quetzaltenango Airport provides air service to the city.

City Hall © chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0 Quetzaltenango farm highlands © chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0 Quetzaltenango skyline © Ian.w.t.n/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Diego Tirira/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Rodrigo de la Vega 11/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Rodrigobaaz/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Quetzaltenango farm highlands © chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0
In Pre-Columbian times Quetzaltenango was a city of the Mam Maya people called Xelajú, although by the time of the Spanish Conquest it had become part of the K’iche’ Kingdom of Q’umarkaj. The name may be derived from xe laju’ noj meaning “under ten mountains”. The city was said to have already been over 300 years old when the Spanish first arrived. With the help of his allies, Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado defeated and killed the Maya ruler Tecún Umán here. When Alvarado conquered the city for Spain in the 1520s, he called it by the Nahuatl name used by his Central Mexican Indian allies, “Quetzaltenango”, generally considered to mean “the place of the quetzal bird.” Quetzaltenango became the city’s official name in colonial times. However, many people (especially the indigenous population) continue to call the city “Xelajú” or more commonly “Xela” for short, and some proudly, but unofficially, consider it the “capital of the Mayas”. From 1838 to 1840 Quetzaltenango was capital of the state of Los Altos, one of the states or provinces of the Federal Republic of Central America. As the union broke up, the army of Guatemala under Rafael Carrera conquered Quetzaltenango making it again part of Guatemala. In 1850, the city had a population of approximately 20,000. During the 19th century, coffee was introduced as a major crop in the area. As a result, the economy of Xela prospered. Much fine Belle Époque architecture can still be found in the city.

On October 24, 1902, at 5:00 pm, the Santa María Volcano erupted. Rocks and ash fell on Quetzaltenango at 6:00 pm, only one hour after the eruption. In the 1920s, a young Gypsy woman named Vanushka Cardena Barajas died and was buried in the Xela city cemetery. An active legend has developed around her tomb that says those who bring flowers or write a request on her tomb will be reunited with their former romantic partners. The Guatemalan songwriter Alvaro Aguilar wrote a song based on this legend. In 1930 the only electric railway in Guatemala, the Ferrocarril de Los Altos, was inaugurated. It was built by AEG and Krupp, and had 14 train cars. The track connected Quetzaltenango with San Felipe, Retalhuleu. It was soon destroyed by mudslides and finally demolished in 1933. The people of Quetzaltenango are still very proud of the railway. A railway museum has been established in the city centre. Since the late 1990s Quetzaltenango has been having an economic boom, which makes it the city with the second-highest contribution to Guatemalan economy. With its first high-rise buildings being built, it is expected by 2015 to have a more prominent skyline, with buildings up to 15 floors tall. In 2008, the Central American Congress PARLACEN stated that every September 15, Quetzaltenango will be Central America‘s capital of culture. Quetzaltenango was supposed to host the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, but dropped out due to lack of funding for the event.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Quetzaltenango, Wikivoyage Quetzaltenango and Wikipedia Quetzaltenango. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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