Santiago Atitlan is the largest town on Lake Atitlan, with over 50,000 inhabitants. Lake Villa Guatemala is technically in Santiago, though it’s a 15-minute drive into town. It was the first town around Lake Atitlan settled by the Spanish, and the Catholic church was built in 1547 on the site of a Mayan temple, and to this day has Mayan altars inside.
Guests often like to shop on the street leading up from the dock. Santiago is well known for its bird and flower motif guipiles (women’s blouse) and for its wood carving.
Santiago has a busy market where locals buy their produce, clothing, and household goods. Market days are Friday and Sunday.
Santiago Atitlan Walking Tour
We are blessed to have Dolores Ratzán Pablo in Santiago. Dolores lived in the U.S. for 10 years and speaks excellent English. She is active in a Santiago cofradía (spiritual brotherhood) and gives an excellent walking tour, including the church, Maximon, and if desired, another cofradía.
Cojolya Weaving Co-op and Museum
For over 30 years, the Cojolya Association of Maya Women Weavers has been helping to keep the tradition of backstrap weaving alive, while providing income to its members.
Cojolya uses traditional methods with high quality materials and modern designs to create unique styles. They have a small store and museum in the heart of Santiago.
Cojolya offers tours where you can meet the weavers in their homes and workshops, and see how the work is done. Current price for the tour is Q80. They also offer weaving classes for Q23 per hour plus a materials fee of Q150.
A stop at the store and museum can be included in any trip to Santiago during the week (they’re closed on weekends). Tours and classes require a day’s notice to arrange.