Located in the neighborhood of San Jacinto, Salcajá (a northern town of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala), is the first Catholic Church founded in Central America – La iglesia La Ermita de la Concepción. Built in 1524 for Spanish conquistadores, also known as “La Conquistadora” or Church of San Jacinto is a small church with simple design, decor & arts influenced by náhuatl, arabic and medieval culture. Before the Spanish conquest, this place already had real importance within the different or native tribes who inhabited the area, as stated in the sacred Quiche book “Popol Vuh”. It was partly damaged by an earthquake in 1902 and was later restored by a man named Jacinto.
The church has the oldest altarpieces in Central America and relic of the first effigy of the Virgin Mary brought from Europe. Example of Guatemalan art is also seen inside the church such as embossed silver objects. The town of Salcajá strived to maintain the church and serves as a museum, where pre-Hispanic objects found in the region show a relationship of the past with the present, allowing visitors to understand the history of the place and the cultural importance that it has for generations. Though a mass is still celebrated every Saturday, the church is mainly closed. La Conquistadora is a colonial site that depicts history, culture and arts of Guatemala.
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