Quetzaltenango’s cemetery ‘El Calvario’ is situated a bit outside the city center, a 15 minute walk west from the central park. It is a huge area and one of Guatemala’s oldest cemeteries. It was founded in 1840, the same year Quetzaltenango’s second mayor Félix López Monzón died. Like every Guatemalan cemetery divided into different parts for the poor, the middle class and the high class. Especially after All Saint’s day in October you will find the cemetery decorated with fresh and colourful flower bouquets and floral wreaths. Best time to visit the cemetery is during daytime, when it is more safe.
Most impressive are the tombs and mausoleums of the middle and the high class. The first part of the cemetery, right after the entrance, is called ‘La Loma’ and shows an example of the interplay between Mayan and Catholic beliefs. In the second part is rich in mausoleums, which were ordered directly from Italy and set up on Xela’s cemetery by Italian architects. Many visitors come here to explore sculptural and architectonic art. You will stroll along mausoleums which resemble small houses in neo-gothic, neoclassical or romanticism style. You will come across mausoleums which look like pyramids and others that look like chess figures.
If you are unhappy with your love life, you will also find help on Xela’s cemetery, as it is home to the famous tomb of the gypsy girl Vanushka. This tomb is part of an ancient Quetzaltenango legend about love and heartsickness. You can find her grave close to the entrance. Walking down the main path some one hundred meters, you will see the tomb in the second row at the left side. Today there are many different versions of this love legend told.
One story tells, that the beautiful gypsy girl Vanushka arrived at Quetzaltenango with a circus and one day during a performance the son of the city governor immediately fell for her beauty. After he helped her out during a circus show, they fell in love with each other. Together they lived a secret love life and had a passionate love affair. However, it was a prohibited romance both by the parents of the girl and by the boy.
When the governor found out about the romance of his son, he sent him to Spain, whereupon Vanushka died in mortal agony. Nowadays, she helps everyone in search of their lost loved ones. Many people, especially women, visit to her grave in order to ask for help in their love life. Many leave a message on the tomb or bring small presents or flowers.
Walk west from the central square, down 4a Calle until you reach the cemetery