The small town of Suchitoto in northern El Salvador represents for the country both the rise of tourism as well as the memory of its past. From its charming and ordered center to the breathtaking views found on the outside of town and offers travelers the chance to experience geographic and architectural beauty and to learn more about the host country.
When entering the city, travelers are advised to go straight to the town center. Here, the impressive white cathedral of Santa Lucia immediately grabs one’s attention, and with good reason—it is one of the largest, oldest, and most beautiful churches in Central America. The inside is no less remarkable, with enormous 3-story pillars rising over the pews and austere, realistic saint statues looking on from all sides.
The government has employed resources for the restoration and remodeling of the church, solidifying its position as a true landmark and a point of pride for the community.
Upon exiting the church, one steps out onto the town square, a public area with trees and a small fountain, surrounded by stone-paved streets and quaint cafes and restaurants. The feeling is one of peace—while this town has seen an increase in tourism in recent years, it is still a smaller town, free of traffic and noise pollution. Visitors can walk the cobbled streets between beautiful old buildings, getting the feeling of being taken back to a simpler time. However, the church and the roads are not the only indicators of the town’s past.
The country’s cultural past is well-documented here, as travelers can visit museums, art galleries, and artisanal stores which sell traditional, brightly-colored crafts made in the country. One location, the “Centro Arte para la Paz” (“Art Center for Peace”) embodies this cultural identity, as it features a museum commemorating the town’s past. At the same time, it embraces tourism with its hostel rooms and modern café.
(Photo of Lake Suchitlan seen above by Flickr user Adai-Honduras)
Despite its beautiful scenery all over town, a visit to Suchitoto isn’t complete without a view of Lake Suchitlan, which essentially serves as this town's “back yard.” Visitors can take boat tours and see the various islands in the middle of the enormous lake; the view of the lake from above can also be enjoyed from a couple of hotels and restaurants which overlook it. From the hills looking down, it is a truly magnificent sight.
Author’s note: My favorite moments in Suchitoto come at night during the rainy season, when the streets are still wet and a slight mist settles on the town. At these times the quiet peace is enchanting, and it feels like a world apart, a self-contained cell of beauty and history. It represents for me the start of my international travels, my gateway to the world, and it will never anything but beautiful; its residents will always be warm and welcoming.
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By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2014. International Travel Writers.com All rights reserved images and text