Huehuetenango doesn't have much to offer tourists, with the exception of a pretty fountain and a Catholic church, which, after suffering great hardships (it suffered massive destruction in the 1902 and 1976 earthquakes, and the church's patron saint, La Virgen de la Concepción Inmaculada, was destroyed by fire in 1956), was rebuilt, and once again anchors the plaza with two prominent bell towers and eight white columns dominating its facade.

Most visitors stop here on their way to Zaculeu, the post-Classic city that was once the center of power for the Mam Maya group. It's no coincidence that the city sits on a hilltop with steep ravines on three sides, as the geography works well for defending the site from potential attackers. Zaculeu was occupied for more than 10,000 years until its defeat by Spanish conquistadors in 1525. Not even the Spaniards were able to breech the city's defenses, so they simply laid siege, and in a couple of months starved the Mam into submission.

The ruins were restored by the United Fruit Company in the 1940s, and are in good shape, although the rather heavy-handed use of concrete and plaster in the restoration has garnered scorn over the years. There's also a ball court and a small museum. Local Mam still use the site for ritual purposes, and you can often see smoldering fires on their altars.

Zaculeu is located 5km (3 miles) west of Huehuetenango. The site is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Admission is Q30 ($4/£2). A taxi from town should cost around another Q30 ($4/£2).

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