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16th Century Colonial Capital

Founded in 1528, Suchitoto was the first major Spanish settlement in what is now El Salvador. The conquistadors used Suchitoto as a base for subjugating the surrounding region until San Salvador was established as colonial capital in 1545.

Despite its martial history, Suchitoto is charmingly tranquil and friendly. The town retains much of its colonial character—whitewashed adobe buildings, red tiled roofs and cobblestone streets. During the civil war, local filmmaker Alejandro Cotto successfully persuaded both sides that Suchitoto was worth preserving.

For untold centuries before the Spanish arrival, native peoples in this area dyed their textiles with the deep blue pigment of the Xiquilite or indigo plant. By the 16th century, Suchitoto's indigo had become a prized commodity in Europe; at its peak, an ounce of indigo was as valuable as an ounce of gold. The town's prosperity was memorialized in mansions, haciendas and the grand 1858 Santa Lucia Church. Today, visitors can tour the indigo plantations and workshops, observing the cultivation and dying processes.

Suchitoto graces the southern shore of Lake Suchitlán, 29 miles northeast of San Salvador. In the native Nahuatl language, Suchitoto's name means "flower bird". Indeed, the surrounding wetlands are home to hundreds of avian species, many of which can be seen at Isla de los Parjaros on Lake Suchitlán. Private tours with naturalist guides can be arranged.

Guided tours to the Guazapa Volcano, 15 miles southeast of Suchitoto, take hikers and horseback riders on forested trails and through civil war battlefields. Other popular day-trips visit the basalt-columned Los Tercios Waterfall, the Agua Caliente hot springs, and a former guerilla camp at Montaña de Cinquera.

Potters in the town of Ilobasco, 20 miles southeast of Suchitoto, produce jars, figurines, and egg-shapedsorpresas containing miniature village scenes. Artisans in San Sebastian, to the south, weave naturally-dyed hammocks. San Antonio los Ranchos, 15 miles north of Ilobasco, is well regarded for its handmade baskets, cigars, and indigo textiles.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel to Suchitoto and throughout El Salvador. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.


"Bring the past only if you are going to build from it."

Doménico Cieri Estrada