Posted by: missopinion | November 2, 2009

Celebrating Santa Ana! – El Salvador


One of my favourite departamentos and cities of El Salvador is our 2nd departamento in this series of Chivo El Salvador, this is Santa Ana….

Santa Ana is home to some of most beautiful opulent colonial buildings and most engaging water parks and tourist centres. It is located approximately 64km from the city of San Salvador and is the second largest city in the country.


Historically the city was founded by the pro-columbian tribes of Pocomane and later inhabited by the ‘pipiles’ tribes approximately 1200AD. At the height of the golden coffee age of El Salvador, Santa Ana was the most prosperous as can be demonstrated by the grandeur of the old homesteads and civic buildings. Now Santa Ana is one of the most economically important cities of El Salvador particularly in the retail and manufacturing industries.

town  hall

Santa Ana is also home to two of the most active volcanoes of El Salvador Ilamatepect and Izalco. The last eruption of a volcano was in 2005 and this was the Ilamatepect volcano, commonly known as the volcano of Santa Ana, is also El Salvador’s highest.


Some of the must see attractions of this beautiful city known for its cool climate is the Catedral de Santa Ana, or the Santa Ana Cathedral. It is a beautiful kept gothic style cathedral with high sharp peeks that stands imposingly at the centre of the city of Santa Ana. On Sundays and other special days you will find the streets along the cathedral filled with street vendors ready to sell you holy amulets, books, drawings, paintings and other religious paraphernalia.


teatroThe Teatro de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Theatre) is one of the most outstanding buildings you will encounter when in the city centre of Santa Ana. It stands majestically painted in pastel blue, clean and situated perfectly for easy access by all theatre goers and appreciators of fine architecture and history. Its traditional colonial face is only surpassed by its lavish interior and highly praised musical and theatrical performances that grace this beautiful building.


For those who delight in a spot of shopping you will find a great selection at Metrocentro, one of the largest shopping malls in the country. I, coming from a country where I am used to seeing this kind of shopping malls, this was a welcome diversion from the off-the-beaten-track travelling I usually undertake. If you desire to do a little more traditional Salvadoran shopping for your dinner, for travel snacks or just to look around to see if you find anything interesting to purchase you might want to take a gander at the two street markets in Santa Ana city, one called the Colon and the other is the Central Markets. Here you will find plenty of fresh local produce, leather goods, for which Santa is known for and please indulge in the local fresh fruits that are native to El Salvador, you wont regret it.



In Santa Ana you will find some of the most family friendly and entertaining water parks of El Salvador. My personal favourite was Termos Del Rio. This aquatic park offers an array of pools for all ages and swimming abilities, plenty of outdoor eating areas if you wish to bring your own food, a restaurant if you with to eat in that offers a delectable menu that includes prawn cocktails and cocktail of cockles – which I personally crave for now that I am no longer travelling in El Salvador. Termos del Rio is famous for its thermal pool said to come from the a thermal river up stream, however, I have heard rumours that this is not true. But either way its still a very fun place. Ample parking, amble al fresco areas for you to pitch your hammock (hamaca), horse rides for patrons, areas to explore the natural surroundings of this fun water park with tracks and walking trails that take you all around the aquatic park.



One of the most mysterious, beautiful and inviting lakes is found in Santa Ana; Lago de Coatepeque or Coatepeque Lake. I spent 3 days in a private lake home and had the most fun. Waking up each morning to the sun glistening on the lake, hearing the birds each morning, riding the wave rider up and down the lake enjoying the scenery and its visitors was the most amazing time. Coatepeque Lake is mysterious because there are many stories of caution that people from the local area tell of. Mainly they are true stories of people who have drowned in the lake and their bodies never recovered such as the north America world champion water skier who drowned in the middle of the lake and his body was never recovered. Local people believe that the lake is dangerous due to possible water rips that occur underneath the surface and its tangle of reeds, and underwater seaweed. Coatepeque Lake is extremely close to one of the volcanos of Santa Ana and legend has it that those who enter the lake are risking their lives and risking being dragged under water by the rips and take into underwater caves that lead to the centre of the volcano. But the lake offers public access also, there are restaurants, shady areas for families to enjoy a day by the lake, boat rides that take you across and around the lake itself. Surrounding a lot of the lake are stately holiday homes owned by El Salvador’s wealthy elite. Some owners even have their own helicopters! Just like the country itself Lake Coatepeque is a microcosm of El Salvador’s society whereby the very very rich live along side the very very poor and with very few in-between.


You can also visit the Ruinas de Tazumal or Tazumal Ruins which are some of El Salvador’s pyramid relics, and another ruins from the times of Mayas and Pipils. These ruins are very important and archilogically significant to El Salvador.

ruinas de tazumal

 The main festival season is July in Santa Ana. At the fiestas julias there is a coronation ceremony for the queen of the festival, the queen is usually selected from the young girls of the city and surrounding towns and villages. Colourful parades and marching bands and dances held in the streets or other venues are held throughout the celebratory month.This is traditional to the country in general in all departamentos of El Salvador.




Santa Ana is a massive departamento with numerous towns and villages that you can spend days and even months getting to know the individual traditions, festivities and culture of the place.



Thank you to the following sites for use of some pictures:



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