Suchitoto a Colonial City
Less than 30 miles from the capital city, Suchitoto is one of the nation’s most popular destinations.
Narrow Cobbled Stone Streets
Time definitely seems to have stopped in the city of Suchitoto, one of the country’s most visited cities in the Northern part of the country. Suchitoto is located in the department of Cuscatlán and is situated 47 kilometers from the capital city of San Salvador. This equates to about a one hour drive.
Suchitoto, which in the native Nahuatl tongue means “City of the Flower Bird”, literally became a ghost town in the period of the country’s civil war, which lasted from 1980 – 1992. The constant cascade of bombs and battles near the extinct volcano of Guazapa forced most of its inhabitants to abandon the city. Yet it was this migration that helped the city to preserve its unique architecture. While visiting Suchitoto, you’ll experience that magic calm of the old days, with narrow cobbled stone streets and adobe houses with balconies.
Suchitoto During the Time of the Spaniards
The first villa of San Salvador was founded by Diego de Alvarado in the year 1525. Located just 10 kilometers from Suchitoto, in the area now known as “La Bermuda”, the villa of San Salvador stood in this place for 20 years and until 1545 when heat and terrible lightning storms combined with a severe drought during the arrival of the rainy season. This influx of water and fire risk forced them to move to where San Salvador currently lies near the Acelhuate river basin. Nevertheless, Suchitoto kept functioning as a major indigo dye production centre, which floursihed towards the beginning of the 17th century.
Lake Suchitlan is the country’s widest body of water. It is situated only 3 kilometers from the city’s center and can be reached by its recently paved road. The artificial lake was formed in 1973 after having the electricity dam, Cerrón Grande, built on the course of the Lempa River. The lake is home to many species of migratory and year-long resident birds. During the dry season, the lake drops its water levels and some sand dunes are created. Birds eagerly seek out these spots to rest. One of the lake’s most attractive boat tours is the one which takes you to an island called “Bird Island”. It takes about an hour and thirty minutes and the boat ride to “Hermitage Cave” will run about an hour. Boat trips can easily be arranged from the dock of the recently inaugurated Port San Juan.
The Suchitoto Church or Santa Lucia Mártir Church celebrates its patron Saint festivities during the month of December) This historical church hasn’t yet been specifically dated back in time, even though some people say the church was built during the 16th century. The church is by far one of Suchitoto’s most emblematic cultural institutions. The main park is located across from the church, and to its side is the glorious portal which is home to small businesses built in the style characteristic of the Colonial days.
Permanent Festival of Arts and Culture and Alejandro Coto
Alejandro Coto has been one of the most perseverant promoters of the city of Suchitoto. Coto is a Salvadoran movie-maker born in 1928. In 1999, he bequeathed his house and its belongings (music collection, library and paintings) to the people from Suchitoto. A visit to Alejandro Coto’s home is a very interesting and nostalgic experience for both the visitor and the man himself, as he guides you through the house and tells of all his experiences.
Coto has also been promoting the permanent festival of arts and culture which has been celebrated every February since 1990. In 1997, Suchitoto was awarded the title of National City of Cultural Richness.
Today, Suchitoto holds a wide variety of dining and epicurean delights, as well as more than 10 two- to five-star hotels. The city also features many pleasant and endearing bars, small diners and handcraft stores.
When it comes to visiting El Salvador, Suchitoto is guaranteed to keep you relaxed and rejuvenated. Take the opportunity to step back in time, to a world and era where things were so much simpler.