The town of San Felipe is just 5 minutes away from Antigua Guatemala. If you’re in town, it’s a great place to visit – their handicrafts market sells quality stuff at a better price than in Antigua, plus the street food at the back of the market is some of the best in Guatemala.
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Getting to San Felipe de Jesus
To visit San Felipe, walk north via 6a Avenida, past La Merced Church. At the end of the street, you’ll come to a busy intersection. Keep walking north, past IGSS, a public hospital, and follow the winding road up the hill. It’s about a mile and a half walk from La Merced Church and quite safe during the day. I don’t recommend you take this walk at night since streets are poorly lit on the road leading to San Felipe.
Keep walking north, past IGSS, a public hospital, and follow the winding road up the hill. It’s about a mile and a half walk from La Merced Church and quite safe during the day. I don’t recommend you take this walk at night since streets are poorly lit on the road leading to San Felipe.
The easiest way is to take a tuk-tuk near La Merced, which should cost no more than 10Q. Or, you can get to the road at the beginning of the hill, near the hospital, and catch a chicken bus going up the hill for about 2Q. The bus will turn off the main road, so make sure to double back and head to the church. Don’t worry, just look for the red steeple – you can’t miss it.
San Felipe de Jesús Church
Meet San Felipe de Jesus Church, known in Spanish as Santuario de San Felipe de Jesus, and one of the most distinctive churches in all of Guatemala.
San Felipe Church (Santuario de San Felipe de Jesús)
This church is one of my favorites due to the beautiful colors, sky-high spires, and bell and clock-tower. This colorful church feels as if it would be right at home in one of Pixar’s animated films.
San Felipe is a brisk 20-minute northbound walk from Antigua’s Central Park.This church owes its Neo-Gothic style to the fact that it was built in its present form later than the churches around Antigua’s valley.
History of the Church
San Felipe’s church has actually been rebuilt many times over. The town of San Felipe, first settled in 1670, had a curious beginning. The first residents in the area settled in 1670 and arrived here from another community after suffering through one-too-many disease outbreaks and a bat plague. Yes, bats. San Felipe came full circle with its past when they decided to build the church in the Neo-Gothic style, which is most prominently associated in present pop-culture with Batman, the comic book superhero.
In 1760, residents erected the first church on these grounds, which unfortunately later burned to the ground.
In 1820, the town built a second church, which the town quickly outgrew.
Less than 50 years later, in 1867, work began on a newer, much more spacious church, which opened its doors in 1870. This church had the familiar baroque style that was popular with other churches around the area.
Massive earthquakes struck Guatemala between 1917 and 1918, which seriously damaged the church. Because it was in such disrepair, the Priest in charge decided that the structure should be demolished, save for the sanctuary, and to completely rebuild it.
Instead of building the church in the traditional baroque style, they opted for a face-lift, which is how it ended up with its current style.
This church also houses a relic, the wood-carved Cristo Sepultado (“Buried Christ”) image, which dates back to the 1600’s.
Traditional Guatemalan Food
This place is a great stop if you’re in Antigua for a few days.
The church has a plaza which often fills with street vendors selling high-quality traditional Guatemalan food. Behind the handicrafts market (just go through the market itself), you’ll find good, tasty street food.
There’s a handicraft’s market across the street from the church, which is a good place to find original handicrafts, meet artisans, and get some traditional Guatemalan sweets.
I highly recommend a visit here, as I’ve found the handicrafts market in Antigua to be overpriced and filled with most of the same mass-produced items you can find much lower elsewhere. You’ll probably find better prices and more original merchandise in San Felipe.
Want more? Check out: https://www.okantigua.com/things-to-do-in-antigua-guatemala/