Chichicastenango

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Chichicastenango

(chē'chēkästānäng`gō), town, SW Guatemala. In the heart of the highlands, Chichicastenango was a trading town in ancient times. It became the spiritual center of the QuichéQuiché
, indigenous peoples of Mayan linguistic stock, in the western highlands of Guatemala; most important group of the ancient southern Maya. The largest of the contemporary native groups of Guatemala, numbering over a million, they live principally in the region
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 after their defeat (1524) by Pedro de Alvarado. The town, often called Santo Tomás, is quaint and charming, with a maze of winding streets surrounding the main plaza, the site of one of the most colorful town markets in Central America. In the Dominican monastery (founded 1542) was discovered the famous Popul-Vuh manuscript of Maya-Quiché mythology. There are several excellent collections of relics, especially of carved jade. Chichicastenango is a popular tourist center.