official_name = Panajachel
image_caption = Lake Atitlán from Panajachel
dot_x = |dot_y =
pushpin_map_caption =Location in Guatemala
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = Department
latd=14 |latm=44 |lats=26 |latNS=N
longd=91|longm=09 |longs=44 |longEW=W
elevation_m = 1597
Panajachel is a town in the southwestern
Guatemalan Highlands, in the department of Sololá. It serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding municipalityof the same name. The altitude is convert|5238|ft|m|0. The population is 11,142.
The town of Panajachel is located on the shore of
Lake Atitlán, and has become a centre for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages.
In the 16th century, during the period of the Spanish conquest of Guatemala, the shore of the lake was the scene of a battle in which the Spanish and their Kaqchikel allies defeated the
Tz'utujils. The Spanish set up a church and monastery in Panajachel soon afterward, and used the town as a centre to convert the indigenous people of the region to the Roman Catholicfaith. The original façade of the church still stands, and is considered one of the gems of the colonial style in Guatemala.
Panajachel is packed with hotels, small restaurants, lively nightspots and has several schools to learn Spanish. It has been overwhelmed in recent years by
tourists, with souvenirshops and stalls lining the main street (Calle Santander). Significantly, the town does offer several features of eco-cultural interest. The restored 16th century Catholic church, "San Francisco Assis" is the enduring feature of a Franciscan mission established here to Christianize the indigenous population on the north shore. Its stone faced, stepped-up facade is unique. Of more contemporary interest are the "Museo Lacustre Atitlan" on downtown Avenida Santander and two ecological/cultural attractions on the edge of town, The San Buenaventura Nature Reserve and "Centro Cultural Los Encuentros". The "Museo Lacustre" houses a professionally organized collection of rare archeological artifacts recovered from the Lake's bed. The Nature Reserve is an extensive tract dedicated to the preservation of flora and fauna native to the Lake basin eco-system. "Los Encuentros" is a relatively small, private center dedicated to the promotion of local Mayan culture. It holds the most extensive tutorial medicinal plant garden in the Lake Atitlan Basin and a modest gallery which showcases the variety of styles employed by indigenous artists of the Lake. The staff of the center also facilitates encounters with indigenous shamans, painters, and weavers in their own settings.
The town attracted many
hippiesin the 1960s, but the numbers of foreign visitors plummeted during the Guatemalan Civil War. After the war ended, tourists started coming back, and Panajachel's economy is once again primarily based on tourism. The town is nicknamed Gringotenango ("place of the gringo") by some, in reference to the number of tourists who visit and the foreigners who choose to live in Panajachel, but most people call it Pana for short.
*There are several daily bus services to
Guatemala Cityand other cities throughout the country, as well as [http://www.atitlan.net/shuttle.htm private shuttles] .
Transportes Aereos Guatemaltecos, offers charter helicopter flights [http://www.tag.com.gt/]
*All towns around
Lake Atitláncan be reached by boats, departing from the pier
Panajachel was seriously affected by
Hurricane Stanin October 2005 with a major mudslide destroying about 100 homes along the river.
Federal Republic of Germany, Calle Principal 0-93, Zona 2 [http://pressetext.de/pte.mc?pte=071011030]
* [http://www.atitlan.net/panajachel-map.htm Panajachel Map]
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1071-1930087,00.html The night the mud drowned whole villages] This article refers to the village of Panabaj, on the south side of Lake Atitlan, not Panajachel.
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