La Iglesia de San Andres de Xecul is a sad tale of contrasts, on both the interior and exterior. Situated in the town of San Andrés Xecul, Totonicapán, department of Guatemala., the church is a lasting legacy of colonialism in Guatemala, and an eye-popping example of syncretism in Latin American Christianity.
Starkly differing from the drab and cold cathedrals of mainland Europe, La Iglesia de San Andres is a wildly colored and visually-stunning proclamation of faith. With its bright yellow facade, it is impossible to miss from the city of Quetzaltenango. However, along with its obvious beauty, the church carries an obvious legacy of colonial influence in Guatemala.
Despite the connection of the church with its forceful past, the designs on the facade are distinctly Latin American and more specifically Mayan. Aside from the typical bright colors and designs, many of the figures depicted on the church are also holding ferns, leaves and other plants. This strong connection to nature harkens back to the pre-Columbian era and humans interaction with nature. Imagery of note on the west facade includes angels, corn, quetzals, monkeys, and jaguars.
In many ways, the Mayan influenced patterns sharply differentiate the church from classic Christian monuments. However, the bright colors also serve to put the lasting impact of European influence front and center in Guatemala, forcing an unavoidable history lesson, even for those that don’t want to remember the European legacy on Latin America.
Know Before You Go
From Quetzaltenago or Totonicapán you can take a shuttle or public transportation bus to the town of San Andrés Xecul.