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The Highlands Travel Guide

Quetzaltenango (Xelajú)

Guatemala's second-largest city might seem quite provincial if you've first visited the capital. But we'll take friendly, old Quetzaltenango any day. Historically, the city never entirely warmed to the idea of authority from far-away Guatemala City, and, in fact, was a hotbed of separatist sentiment during the 19th century. Those dreams have long faded, but you'll see Quetzaltenango's blue-white-red

regional flag flying far more frequently here than the blue-white-blue national flag.

The first attraction of the place is the city itself. You won't find many must-see sights here, but Quetzaltenango's large student population gives it a cosmopolitan, politically astute, slightly bohemian feel, with a good selection of restaurants, cafés, and nightlife. It's no wonder that the city has become such a choice place to study Spanish.

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