Candelaria Caves

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Candelaria Caves
Stalagmites, stalactites and columns inside the caves
Map showing the location of Candelaria Caves
Map showing the location of Candelaria Caves
Location Chisec, Raxruha (Guatemala)
Coordinates 15°51′58.468″N 90°2′36.193″W / 15.86624111°N 90.04338694°W / 15.86624111; -90.04338694Coordinates: 15°51′58.468″N 90°2′36.193″W / 15.86624111°N 90.04338694°W / 15.86624111; -90.04338694
Length c. 80,000 metres (260,000 ft)
Discovery Local Maya people
Geology Karst
Entrances multiple
Candelaria Rive.
Flowstone drapes

The Candelaria Caves are a large natural cave system in the highland-lowland transition of Alta Verapaz in Guatemala between the municipalities of Chisec and Raxruha. The caves are famous for its peculiar karst phenomena and significance to the Mayan history.


Amongst the attractions of its huge karst caverns are speleothems like stalactites, stalagmites, stalagnates and flowstone drapes. Pit caves, caused by collapse of the ceiling, light the inside of the caves. The main gallery has a length of 22 km, of which 12.5 km follows the underground passage of the Candelaria River. The total length of the cave system, including coulisses, secondary and upper passages, is estimated to be 80 km.[1]


The Great Western Trade Route [2] of the Classic Maya, which connected the Guatemalan highlands to the Petén lowlands, went through the Candelaria Caves area. Pottery artefacts evidence the use of the caves for ceremonies. [3] The Popol Vuh of the K'iche' people considers the Candelaria Caves an entrance to the underworld. [4]


The government of Guatemala declared the Candelaria Caves national park in 1999. After long battles with the government the local Q'eqchi' people gained the management of tourism in the caves through their “Association Maya Q'eqchi Development and Tourism of Candelaria-Camposanto”. [5]


  1. ^ Verapaz attractions Retrieved 2015-02-15
  2. ^ Woodfill 2007, p.23
  3. ^ Woodfill 2007, pp.145-183
  4. ^ FLAAR report. Retrieved 2015-02-15
  5. ^ Del Cid, García 2003


Del Cid, Mario & David R. García (2003). "The Candelarias cave, Alta Verapaz: Demythifying communitarian participation in patrimonial conservation" (PDF). 
Woodfill, Brent Kerry Skoy (2007). Shrines of the Pasión-Verapaz Region, Guatemala: Ritual and Exchange along Ancient Trade Route. Nashville.