Baroque Catholic church, built in 1572
|• Total||304 km2 (117 sq mi)|
|Website||Official Website of the Municipality of Rabinal|
Rabinal is a small town located in the Guatemalan department of Baja Verapaz, at . It serves as the administrative seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The municipality covers 504 km² and, in 2004, had a population of around 36,000. The local people are predominantly Achi Maya Native Americans who speak the Achi Maya language.
The settlement of Rabinal is founded by Bartolomé de Las Casas, during his expedition into the lands of the Maya in 1537. In 1572 construction finished on the grand colonial Catholic Baroque church, a project begun by then Bishop of Chiapas Bartolomé de Las Casas.
During the mid-19th century Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, serving as Parish Priest, conducts some of the first ethnographic studies of the highland Maya and collects folk tales and documents making the first translations into European languages, of the Rabinal Achí. As of 1850, the population was estimated to be 6,500.
Rabinal is the site of some of the bloodiest massacres in Guatemala's Civil War, including those of Plan de Sánchez and Río Negro. The actual town of Rabinal was also the site of a large-scale massacre during the Independence Day celebration of 1981.
The town of Rabinal boasts a large, colonial-era baroque church. Alongside the church is a small municipal museum, with exhibits on the local culture (particularly native healing techniques) and a section dealing with the massacres of the 1980s. Various pre-Hispanic archaeological sites are also located in the surrounding hills.
The town's annual fiesta patronal takes place in late January each year and is famous for its dances, including one that recreates a legendary battle between the Achi and the K'iche Maya, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural monument, known as The Rabinal Achí.
- Baily, John (1850). Central America; Describing Each of the States of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. London: Trelawney Saunders. p. 87.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rabinal.|
- Rabinal Achí in the UNESCO web site
- Rabinal: extensive photographic essay about the town and its people
- "Guatemala: The Forgotten Spirits of Rabinal," by Thaddeus al Nakba, describes the Independence Day massacre in detail