A short walk from the modern markets of central Cobán sits the city's best known sight, which offers one of the best views in the area.
Tradition holds that an indigenous hunter happened upon a pair of sleeping jaguars here, but decided not to kill them. He later returned to the location to find an image of Jesus, which town elders took as a sign that a church should be built at the site. The present El Calvario is not that original church; the structure you see dates from 1810, and sits at the top of a cobblestone path with 130 steps, each representing a bead of the rosary. A series of small shrines, each sheltering a cross darkened with ash, lines the path up to the church. The lowest shrine is traditionally devoted to prayers of any type. The middle stop is for requests related to affairs of the heart. The highest shrine, near the church entrance, is the place to pray for good health. If you light a votive candle, pay attention to the way the flame burns: local belief says an upright, vertical flame is a sure sign your prayer will be answered; any flickering of smoke or tilting of the flame portends a less certain response.