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Spotlight On: A Series on Culture & the Arts

Pasaje-interior“Spotlight On” is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on all things cultural & artistic in Xela and Guatemala. The this month’s topic: Pasaje Enriquez, An Architectural Gem

by Diana Pastor

If the topic is Pasaje Enriquez, we’re talking about one of the oldest, richest works of architecture found in Quetzaltenango. Back in 1898, the Italian architect Alberto Porta would begin designing a building that was destined to be an important commercial center from the day it opened its doors. 

Porta – who would set himself apart by designing the columns on the city’s municipal building – imposed his vanguard stamp on the city at the end of the 19th Century. He had a style in common with the other European architects that had migrated to Quetzaltenango during that era.

The architectural work that finished just as the calendar was turning to the Year 1900 is characterized as essentially rationalist with renaissance aspects in its rhythmic façade. The corridors are long and symmetrical with a horizontal perspective and a solidness and volume towards the exterior. You could call it a perfect neoclassical building!

In the façade, eight Tuscan columns were built with Corinthian-style capitals (i.e. the adornments at the top). The first level features detailed, Ionic-style cornice and a series of horizontal borders that enhance and complement the prominent curved lines found in front of the building.

The wooden doors that Pasaje Enriquez once had have been changed and the majority of the interiors of the courtyards have been enclosed. And although the Pasaje has been around for more than a century, it retains the beauty and bohemian style it has been showing off since its original construction.

Throughout its history, a wide range of businesses have inhabited the Pasaje. One of the oldest was called Alcahé and another La Providencia was in business from 1930 up until a few years ago.

Today, within these famous walls there are even apartments for rent. Yet in reality Pasaje Enriquez’s main function continues to be commercial and is home to a wide variety of restaurants, shops, a café, a bank and offices. One of the best-known businesses is the bar Salon Tecún, which is popular among both locals and visitors for its lively nightlife that takes place inside the lovely corridor with any kind of weather occurring outside.

A great number of happening events have ‘passed’ though this space. One of the most memorable ones was a concert by the Guatemalan rock band Bohemia Suburbana several years ago due to the huge number of concert-goers.

Quetzaltecos are extremely fortunate to have this special building. Besides Pasaje Enriquez there are only two other similar buildings in all of Guatemala that serve as a commercial space while, at the same time, have a corridor running between two streets. These are Pasaje Aycinena and Pasaje Rubio, both of which are found in Guatemala City.

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