Meeting Maximón, Guatemala’s Mischievous Mayan Folk Saint

Wow! Substantially deeper than Loch Ness at 227m

Off the Road

Lake Atitlán is one of Guatemala’s prime tourist destinations, along with the jungle ruins of Tikal and the volcano-ringed colonial town of Antigua. Atitlán is a large, beautiful lake, recognized as Central America’s deepest with a depth reaching 340 metres. It is surrounded by verdant hills, majestic volcanoes, and picturesque villages inhabited by largely indigenous Mayan people. While most tourists tend to stay in the largest town and transportation hub of Panajachel, one of Lake Atitlán’s quirkiest and most interesting sights lies in the smaller community of Santiago Atitlán, a long but undeniably scenic boat ride away from Panajachel on the opposite side of the lake.


Santiago Atitlán is home to Maximón, a malicious saint worshipped in indigenous communities across Western Guatemala. His present-day form is derived from the pre-Columbian Mayan god Mam, with influences from the Spanish conquistadors and the Roman Catholic Church (although the latter does not endorse the worship of…

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