Welcome to Santa Catarina Pinula, a charming town and municipality located in the Guatemala Department of Guatemala. With a population of 70,982 (2018 census), Santa Catarina Pinula is a small but vibrant community with a rich history and plenty to offer visitors.
One of the most interesting things about Santa Catarina Pinula is the origin of its name. According to Guatemalan colonial historian Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán, the name comes from ‘Santa Catarina’, the patron saint of the town, and ‘Pinula’, which means ‘flour of water’ in the Pipil language. This name may have come from the Mexican natives who arrived with Pedro de Alvarado’s forces during the Spanish conquest.
History buffs will find plenty to explore in Santa Catarina Pinula. The town was originally a native settlement called Pankaj or Pinola, and its inhabitants put up a strong defense against the conquistadors until finally surrendering to the Spanish at the fortified position of Jalpatagua. The town was founded in place of the old native settlement and eventually became one of the most notable settlements in the area, serving as a curato headquarters for the Order of Preachers under the jurisdiction of the Amatitlán convent.
In 1754, due to a Royal Decree, all the doctrines and curatos still belonging to regular orders were transferred to the secular clergy authorities. Today, Santa Catarina Pinula is a vibrant municipality with a municipal capital and 15 villages and 7 settlements.
While the town’s history is fascinating, there are also plenty of modern attractions to enjoy. Santa Catarina Pinula has a subtropical highland climate with temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F, making it an ideal place to explore the great outdoors. The town is surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests, offering visitors a chance to hike, bike, or simply enjoy the stunning views.
Sports fans will be interested to learn that Guatemalan Olympic swimmer Kevin Avila Soto was born in Santa Catarina Pinula. And for those interested in learning more about the area, the town is completely surrounded by other municipalities in the Guatemala Department.
Unfortunately, Santa Catarina Pinula also made international headlines in 2015 when a hill collapsed after several days of heavy rain, causing a devastating mudslide that destroyed the El Cambray II settlement. The tragedy left hundreds of people missing, with nine confirmed deaths and dozens more injured and displaced.
Despite this tragedy, Santa Catarina Pinula remains a vibrant and welcoming community with a rich history and plenty of modern attractions to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in hiking the surrounding mountains or simply soaking up the local culture, this charming town is definitely worth a visit on your next trip to Guatemala.