Seemingly lifted from a magical realist novel, Suchitoto has held firm – nay, prospered – against the weight of history just as its weekend arts fest turns the quintessential town square into one giant production of guanaco pride. None of this is new, however; when indigo ruled the marketplace and the beautiful Spanish church was packed daily, Suchitoto was the country’s unabashed cultural capital. It retains its title with ease.
For those not fussed by the gallery and bar scene – much of it not open during the week – there are countless hikes to waterfalls, caves and beautiful Lago Suchitlán that begin and end just meters from town. Suchitoto is also a bird migration zone with over 200 species. Thousands of hawks and falcons fill the skies as the seasons change, and birds of all sorts nest in the relative safety of the lake islands.
It is presumed that Yaquis and Pipil peoples settled in the area some 1000 years ago. El Salvador’s capital was established near here in the early 16th century. More recently, some of the earliest fighting of the civil war began in Suchitoto, accompanied by much destruction and emigration. Today the town has rebounded to become the highland seat of national tourism.