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Gracias - Colonial City

One of the best kept secrets in Honduras is the Colonial City of Gracias, one of Honduras's most historic towns. Founded in 1539, many colonial era buildings in Gracias remain standing today. Three colonial churches stand within the center of the city, San Sebastian, Las Mercedes and San Marcos, with a fourth one, Santa Lucia close by in a neighboring village.

The landscape around Gracias is extremely mountainous, with heavily forested areas surrounding the city. Located at the foot of the Montaña de Celaque, the highest peak in Honduras at 2,880m above sea level, and home to the a National Park that bears the same name, this area boasts one of the largest tracts of cloud forest left in Central America, and is one of Honduras's most pristine parks.

A visit to Celaque National Park, one of the nation's finest, is a must for anyone who enjoys nature. A nine kilometer dirt road leads from Gracias to the park's entrance and visitor's center. There is an entrance fee of US$2 payable at the entrance. There is no public transport to the park, but a car can be hired in Gracias.

Hikers will enjoy ascending the principal trail through one of the largest existing stands of cloud forest in Central America to Celaque's 2,849 meter (9,347 foot) summit, Honduras's highest. The cloud forest is a great place for wildlife observation, including the beautiful and elusive quetzal. Others, content to enjoy a walk in the forest, can return to Gracias and relax in the nearby hot springs southeast of town.

In the neighborhood of Gracias are several small communities with some of the largest concentration of Native Indian population in Honduras. Of these the most significant in the area are the Lencas. There is a good production of handicrafts in the region, the most outstanding being ceramics manufactured by the Lencas.

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