La Antigua Guatemala Tourist Attractions
Set amid three volcanoes, Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala) is one of the oldest and most appealing cities in Central America. Antigua conserves its Spanish-colonial appeal despite numerous earthquakes.
Yellow, ocher and orange are prevalent colors along Antigua's cobblestone streets. The streets are devoid of traffic lights, neon signs and structures over two stories tall.Antigua's public buildings are examples of baroque architecture. Antigua's churches have lost much of their splendor due to earthquake damage and post-earthquake reconstruction. La Merced and Iglesia de San Francisco are impressive but Antigua's principal monuments are preserved as ruins. Antigua is a Unesco World Heritage Site.Of interest are Casa K'ojom, a museum of Mayan music and ceremonies and the Palacio de los Capitanes, for 230 years the center of Central American government. A bustling market is held in Parque Central on Sundays, when visitors and locals gather.Antigua is especially beautiful during Semana Santa celebrations, when the city's grid-like streets are carpeted with elaborate decorations of colored sawdust and flower petals.Antigua was Guatemala's capital from 1543 until a devastating earthquake in 1773 when the capital was moved 45km/28mi east to the present site of Guatemala City. Antigua's population is 30,000.
Antigua - Captain-General's Palace
Palacio de los Capitanes Generales with its stone columns is one of Antigua's most magnificent buildings. The building c 1543 has been repeatedly reconstructed and altered following damaging earthquakes and presently has a two-tiered arched façade with 27 arcades on each level.The building was the seat of Spanish colonial government for more than two centuries and the residence of the Captain General.Part of the palace is being converted into a museum and the building houses government offices, city police, and the Guatemala Tourist Institute.
Antigua - Casa Popenoe
This 17th C colonial house offers the opportunity to experience the life of the Spanish colonial elite who once inhabited it.In ruins for 150 years, the house was painstakingly restored in the 1930s by Dr. Wilson Popenoe, chief agronomist for the United Fruit Company, who furnished the house with period antiques, a complete colonial kitchen, bath and laundry areas.The home presents massive walls to the public but the interior is graced with flowered patios surrounded by shaded corridors. A large collection of paintings is contained within.
Antigua - University of San Carlos (Museum of Colonial Art)
Universidad de San Carlos was founded in 1676. Considered one of the most beautiful, intact examples of colonial architecture in Antigua, the University's interior features a fine courtyard surrounded by Moorish arches. Its main building c 1763, houses the Museo de Arte Colonial, noted for the Saint Francis series of paintings by colonial artist Cristóbal de Villapando. In some of the old lecture rooms, scenes of university life in the 18th C have been recreated
Antigua - Holy Week
Semana Santa, Easter Week in Antigua is considered the most important celebration of Christ's crucifixion in the western hemisphere. Monumental processions of religiously-costumed penitents go through Antigua's streets carrying the image of Jesus bearing the cross. Antigua's streets are laid out with intricately-designed carpets (alfombras) of petals and brightly-dyed sawdust created daily for the occasion.
Antigua - Casa K'ojom
Casa K'ojom is a museum focusing on Mayan music, ceremonies, related artifacts and handicraft. Samplings of musical instruments of the Pre-Colonial epoch and those introduced by the Spanish are included.
Antigua - La Merced Church
The church of La Merced was originally built in 1548. Its present form was designed in 1767 to withstand damaging earthquakes. The intricately-patterned yellow and white baroque-styled facade features important sculptures such as Our Lady of Las Mercedes and San Pedro Nolasco. Inside the ruins of the once-attached monastery stands the enormous Fuente de Pescados (Fountain of the Fish) with a diameter of over 24m/80ft. La Merced is the starting point of the procession of Santa Semana.
Antigua - Agua Volcano
The Agua Volcano at an altitude of 3,765 m/12,325 offers panoramas of the Pacific and the Antigua Valley. The volcano is accessed from the town of Santa Maria de Jesus and the climb takes about five hours. It 's named the Agua (or Water) Volcano because of the 16th C mud-slide that came down and buried the town of what is now Veija.
Antigua - Central Marketplace
Considered the most important traditional marketplace in the country, the Mercado is busiest in the morning when village people from the vicinity are buying and selling. Fresh fruit and vegetables and a big selection of handicrafts, typical of this region, are available from vendors wearing the colorful costumes of their native towns.
Antigua - Convent of Santa Clara
The convent of Santa Clara was founded 1699 by five nuns from Puebla, Mexico. What remains of Santa Clara takes its present shape from a 1734 reconstruction. The church offers a beautiful baroque façade and a two-tiered arcade surrounding a central patio and garden. Outside, native women come to do their wash; spreading their clothes on the lawn to dry.
Antigua - Las Capuchinas Convent
La Capuchinas was a convent built in 1736 and run by nuns from Madrid. Destroyed repeatedly by earthquakes it is now a museum reflecting religious colonial life. Unusual features include a round building with 18 concentric cells centered around a circular patio. Below this circular patio is a mysterious, subterranean chamber with interesting acoustics.
Antigua - Central Park
The Parque Central at Antigua's heart is the gathering place for locals and visitors. The park is lined daily with vendors selling handicrafts; on Sunday it's the busiest and the streets on the east and west sides are closed to traffic. At night, mariachi or marimba bands play in the park.
Antigua - Church and School of San Jeronimo
This church was built in 1757 by the friars of the Merced order without official authorization. The Spanish government overtook it in 1761 and turned it into the Royal Customs House. Most of the structure was destroyed by an earthquake but the Hermitage of San Jerónimo can be toured.
Antigua - Convent and Church of San Francisco El Grande
Antigua - Fuego & Acatenango Volcanoes
Acatenango at 3,912m/13,041ft is the twin of Fuego Volcano (Volcano of Fire) at 3,704m/12,346ft. Jointly, these matching volcanoes are called La Horqueta. Acatenango has campsites with panoramic views of Guatemala City and Antigua valley. Fuego Volcano is still active and can be observed frequently spewing ash and sand clouds.
Antigua City Hall
Palacio Del Ayuntamiento, Antigua's City Hall c 1743 is a two-level stone-carved building with a facade decorated with 24 arches. City Hall hosts the Mayor's office, banks, restaurants and the Museum of St James (Museo de Santiago) and the Museum of Antique Books (Museo del Libro Antiguo).
Antigua - Antique Book Museum
Museo del Libro Antiguo is housed in Guatemala's first print shop and contains some valuable first editions, historic documents and a replica of Antigua's first printing press, first operated in 1660.
Antigua - St James Museum
Museo de Santiago exhibits colonial furnishings, artifacts and weapons plus a large portrait of Don Pedro de Alvarado, painted by the renowned Guatemalan artist Garavito.
Antigua - Cathedral of St James
Antigua - Compañie De Jesús
This two-storey complex c 1626 containing a church, cloister and gardens repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes throughout the years has been reconstructed and houses a handicrafts market.
Antigua - Casa Santo Domingo
Antigua - Convent of la Recolección
Antigua - Handcrafts Market
This marketplace exhibits locally-made crafts of ceramic, jade, marble, leather and wood.
Antigua - House of Antique Costumes
Antigua - House of the Count of Gomera
In the historic Casa Del Conde de la Gomera, Antigua's authentic coffee can be sampled.
Antigua - Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas has a finely-tiled fountain. Fiestas, celebrations and public events are held here.
Antigua Arts Festival
The Antigua arts festival is a biennial event arts showcasing ballet, opera and classical music.
San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Antigua
San Antonio Aguas Calientes is a native village famous for its beautiful textiles. The textiles are the finest in Guatemala. The huipils (women's pull-on dresses) made in the village are best known for their tight two-faced weave that produces an identical image on the front and back.Weaving lessons are given by the local women
Jocotillo is a small town selling beautifully hand-carved items from family-run workshops.
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