Visiting Cantarranas, Honduras, The City of Murals in San Juan de Flores
Visiting Cantarranas, The City of Murals in San Juan de Flores was one of my favorite places in all of Honduras with its colorful streets and wall art. This incredible town is located about a one hour drive outside of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.
The drive to the small colonial city of Cantarranas leads you through the misty rainforest of La Tigra, crossing over windy hills with breathtaking views of the valley. Along the way, there are also other notable towns to visit if you have time like Santa Lucia, San Juancito and Valle de Angele. Each of these towns has its own magic and unique characteristics but I was especially drawn to the unexpected charm of Cantarranas.
Despite having a reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Honduras has come to mean so much more to me after this visit. Contrary to media portrayals, I personally didn’t experience or see any dangerous situations unfolding. Of course, poverty was a reoccurring theme throughout most of Central America which are the root of most crime. But what I experienced and witnessed were hardworking men and women who love their families and have built caring close-knit communities who showed me nothing but kindness.
This town certainly stands out in vivid contrast when compared to the capital city of Tegucigalpa with its bright and colorful cobblestone streets and small-town feel. Through a proposal in 2011 by a local artist, Javier Espinal, the city’s municipality agreed to invest a large amount of money into adorning and enhancing the city’s buildings. The facades of the restaurants, cafes, and markets were turned into massive canvases for paintings that depicted the history, culture and natural resources of Cantarranas, turning the city into a virtual outdoor art gallery.
As I explored the town I found that every street and corner I turned there were different artistic murals bringing many of these old broke-down concrete walls to life. Many of the impressive graffiti art had positive messages, cultural or political significance.
There are now over 100 murals decorating and adorning Cantarranas, having been painted by artists from all over Central America like Honduras, Argentina, Columbia, and Mexico. Artists and painters, like Fernanda Betancourt, Christopher Izaguirre, four members of the Sergio Martinez family, and Alberto Ramirez, a Salvadoran painter famous for his six meters long iguana posing amongst lilies and agricultural crops, depict the animals, vegetation, customs and culture of Honduras.
The small mountain town of Cantarranas has transformed itself into a true cultural mecca in the mountains of Honduras. The city has a spectacular representation of street art, comparable to Peru’s Barranco District. The murals of Cantarranas creatively depict the humble and loving culture of the Cantarrana people who hope these displays will be appreciated and capture the hearts and minds of all the tourists who venture here to view it.
This enchanting small city is also known for its sugar factory, cultural fairs, a 200-year-old home that belonged to a former Honduran president, the ever-present church which is one of the most prominent building in the center of town and is often a central focus of even the smallest towns of Latin America.
In addition, two sculptors from Italy created some pretty remarkable stone sculptures that sit in various locations throughout the city. Among the sculptures is a massive stone head that borders the city’s central park and rests in silent repose while taking in the hustle-bustle all around it.
Cantarranas is an extraordinary representation of street art with colorful depictions of the National animal the Guacamaya or Macaw in English.
I was incredibly fortunate to be hosted by an awesome local Honduran woman named Keren from couchsurfing and her sister, both are very successful, kind and intelligent women. From the first night I arrived, they both went out of their way to make me feel at home, feeding me a traditional food called Baleadas and letting me try a special liquor from Peru called Pisco. I was especially grateful that Keren took the time to bring me to Cantarranas and spend time with me on my last day before leaving to Nicaragua. My trip would not have been the same without you, THANK YOU!
“Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh” ~ Rihanna
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