On the northwestern outskirts of Quetzaltenango there exists a building so ordinary and inconspicuous that, upon seeing it, you’d probably think you were wandering in any hum-drum city in Central America. Say it with us now: a Hellenic Temple honoring the Greek goddess Minerva. Wait, what? Yep. Odd as it sounds, one of Guatemalan President Manuel Estrada Cabrera’s more peculiar legacies was his infatuation with this mythological figure. In fact, as a sign of his country’s dedication to wisdom and education, Cabrera oversaw the construction of many such structures in the early 20th century, though Xela’s is the most well-known today by far.
So just what is there to do at the temple besides escape the rain and take pictures? Well, strictly speaking, not too much; it’s just an interesting and strangely impressive sight. Luckily, the area surrounding the temple is infinitely more practical. First there’s the Zoological Park, a nice green-space for relaxing and escaping the city congestion. Then there’s the Minerva Terminal Market, one of the largest and liveliest in Quetzaltenango, immediately across the street. If you’re on the lookout for fresh produce or locally traded goods, this is the spot to find them in true, down home Guatemalan fashion. Just look for the rows upon rows of colored umbrellas along 27 Avenida.