San Andrés Xecul Church

A small village in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, San Andrés Xecul is home to a brightly-painted Catholic church adorned with a fascinating array of Mayan, Christian and agricultural images.



History of San Andrés Xecul Church

The founding date of the San Andres Xecul Church seems to be unknown, but a cross on the facade bears the dates 1900-01. The year 2008 is painted higher up, presumably referring to a restoration of the paint.

What to See at San Andrés Xecul Church

The Church of San Andres Xecul has an unusual dome painted in colorful stripes like a beach ball, but the highlight is the bright yellow west facade, on which some 200 painted sculptures of human figures, angels, monkeys, fruit, corn, quetzel birds dance in technicolor chaos.


The overall design recalls the huipils worn by local women, and the two jaguars are the top may represent the twin heroes of the Mayan scripture, the Popol Vuh.

Inside the church are dozens of candles, gory images of Christ, and chandeliers made from glass stones, coins and rosary beads.

Despite its Catholic overlay, the village of San Andres Xecul is an important center for traditional Mayan religion. Next to another yellow church, El Calvario, smoke can often be seen rising from outdoor Mayan altars.

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