Ancient Architecture Unique to Guam and the Marianas
The ancient latte stones, or simply latte, are a modern symbol of Chamorro strength and identity. Arranged in parallel rows of six to 14 pairs, the Chamorros used latte as a foundation for houses and other important buildings.
Constructed between 1200 BP to 300 BP (before present), latte are as old as the Mayan Pyramids and were in use up until around the time the Spanish colonized the Marianas in the 1600s. Spanish missionaries referred to the latte as Casa de los Antigos or “Houses of the Ancients.”
Each latte is comprised of two stones. The shaft stone on the ground is the haligi, and the cap stone is the tasa. The pillars are made of limestone, basalt, or sandstone and vary in height from about 60 centimeters to more than three meters. Latte are prominent remnants of ancient Chamorro culture found in Guam, Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. No other culture is known to have used this particular form of stone architecture.
One of the best places to see latte is at the Angel Santos Memorial Park in the capital village of Hagåtña. Visitors will find eight latte stones that were built and used by ancient Chamorros to support their wood and thatch homes. The park is one of the stops along the Walking Tour of Hagåtña. The largest latte, the Latte of Freedom, rises 80 feet above Guam and is a welcoming symbol of freedom in the Western Pacific. The monument was built using pennies collected by Guam schoolchildren and provides a panoramic view of Guam’s western shores.