The city is spelled with a “g” Cotzumalguapa. The culture (the archaeological civilization) is spelled Cotzumalhuapa in most international publications. So both are correct.

Cotzumalhuapa Cultural Museum: Bilbao, Finca Las Ilusiones

Originally the property was called "Finca peor es nada". Juan Gavarrete was the first to publish a document about the archaeological site of Bilbao in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (1866). The monument 24 was taken to be exhibited at the "Museo Nacional" colection.

In 1876 the antropologist Adolf Bastian visited Cotzumalguapa and hired Berendt who maked illustrations of the sculptures of the site.

Then, between 1876 and 1886, Albert Napp maked several excavations of area, and 31 stelae and pieces were taken to the Etnographic Museum of Berlin, Germany.

In 1880 when Pedro Anda was cleaning the property to stablish a coffee plantation, he fond several ruins and monuments. Later, some other owner added some more land to the property "Finca Peor es nada" and in 1890 both parts were called Bilbao.

The excavations in the archaeological site of Bilbao were possible thanks to the effort of the Public Museum of Milwakee in colaboration with the Museum of Sciences of Saint Paul and were financially supported by the National Science Foundation. Lee Parsons was in charge or the field works that took place between 1961 and 1963.

The pre-columbian ceremonial center known as Bilbao consists of an artificial acropolis from aproximately 700 yards, in which 17 pyramids are found and the biggest mesures 100 yards length and 12 yards height.

Even though more land has been added and the property name is now Finca Las Ilusiones, the archaeological site it's known as Bilbao.

The property has passed from generation to generation. From Lisandro Paiz to María Gálvez de Molina. In 1966 thanks to the former owner José Ricardo Muñoz Gálvez, the "Museo de Cultura Cotzumalguapa" that is in the area was inaugurated and the most important pieces were transferred to it. Before, the pieces that are now in the museum were exhibited in an unappropriated instalation.

In later years Oswaldo Chinchilla made important exploration of the zone.

Now, the property belongs to the Muños Molina family, has sugar can plantation and is rented by Pantaleón. Carlos Enrique Muñoz Molina is in charge of the administration of the museum and the management of the property.

The person in charge of the museum is René Augusto Hernández, who lives close to the museum and will gently guide and give information about the archaeological site and the pieces.

Museo Cultura Cotzumalguapa
These are some of the sculptures found at the Museo de Cultura Cotzumalguapa




Contact information to arrange an appointment to visit Cotzumalhuapa Cultural Museum

If you wish to visit the archaeological site of Bilbao you must be accompanied with a guide since there are sugar cane plantations in the zone and can be dangerous if you don't know it well.

The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. But you may arrange an appointment out of the schedule.

Contact: René Augusto Hernández celphone: 5157-9112

how to get to Bilbao site in Cotzumalguapa map
Click to enlarge.


First posted August 31, 2009.

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