Guatemala was one of the first American countries that I had visited. It captivated me from the beginning. It is very difficult to find a more complete country in the world than Guatemala. It has a compelling blend of cultures, people, volcanoes, nature, lakes, landscapes and, of course, there I found very good friends (Óscar, Billy, Doris, Flavio, Carlos, Kenneth, Ramiro, Sole, Bobby, Alan…) who always received me with their warmest and friendliest welcome. Thank you all for opening your land to me!
La Antigua is one of the most amazing cities in America. It was the ancient capital of Guatemala. La Antigua is the most stunning and captivating colonial city in Latin America, plenty of Spanish Baroque architecture with ruins of churches and cloisters. Nowadays it has been nominated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Antigua you will find a lot of awesome streetscapes at every corner.
The Spaniards founded the city in 1525, on the site of a Mayan city called Iximche , on July 25th, the day of Santiago, patron saint of Spain. Therefore they named it La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala . It became the seat of the capital of the ancient kingdom of Guatemala which included the contemporary states of Guatemala, Chiapas (Mexico), Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize.
The city was devastated and destroyed by several huge earthquakes and floods over the course of the centuries and finally the Spanish Crown, in 1776, ordered the transfer of the capital to a safer place, the Valle de la Ermita, where Guatemala City, the current capital, stands.
Antigua was built in a square design with streets running to all the cardinal points. It has a Central Square called Plaza Mayor or Parque Central Where you can find the Catedral de San José and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
Parque Central is the heart of the city, it has a nice fountain that is a very popular meeting point. One of the most famous landmarks of the city is the Arco de Santa Catalina which is close to the Parque Central.
When you visit Antigua I suggest you walk around and lose yourself through the cobblestone sidewalks. You will discover countless jewels of colonial architecture such as:
Catedral de San José
Iglesia de San Francisco
Arco de Santa Catalina
Iglesia de la Merced
Convento de Santa Clara
The semi-destroyed Convento del Carmen
The remains of Catedral de Santiago
Casa Santo Domingo
And many more…
Don’t miss the magnificent panorama from the Cerro de la Cruz.
One of the most popular identity marks of Antigua are the overcrowded colourful chicken buses. They were old yellow U.S. School buses and now they plow through the city’s paved streets transporting the public from one city to another.
Antigua is placed in a volcanic area, there are several volcanoes surrounding the city. The closest are Volcán del Agua 3766 meters high. It was responsible for the destruction of the city in 1541 with a huge mudslide. Another volcano is Acatenango 3976 meters high and the Volcán de Fuego, 3763 meters high. It is still active and always ornamented by a column of smoke.
This city is outstandingly visitor-friendly, there are plenty of cafes, shops, nice hotels, chocolate workshops and diversified restaurants.
The amount of visitors reaches its peak during the Holy Week orSemana Santa, an event worthy of visiting. Where devotees pay homage to the Pasión, Crucifixión y Resurrección of Jesus Christ. The city receives thousands of domestic and worldwide tourists and pilgrims.
I hope you will enjoy Antigua through my pictures! Hurry up, take an airplane ticket and visit Guatemala!!