Antigua the Old Capital of Guatemala

Antigua the Old Capital of Guatemala

In the heart of three magnificent volcanoes lies a city with a history that dates back to the 16th century. Though no longer the nation’s capital, Antigua serves as a cultural hub and is one of the main tourist destinations of Guatemala. Full of restaurants, coffee shops, language schools and colonial architecture. Easter celebrations in Antigua are very special. Come and fall in love with this amazing world that seems to have been shielded from the ravages of time.

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Antigua the old capital of Guatemala

Founded in 1543, Antigua served as the Spanish colonial government’s capital of the “Kingdom of Guatemala” including present-day southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 18th century Antigua had, in addition the main Cathedral and the government palace, over 30 churches, 18 convents and monasteries, 15 hermitages, 10 chapels, the University of San Carlos, 5 hospitals, as well as fountains & parks and city water and sewage.

Destruction and Desertion

Surrounded the three volcanoes, Agua, Fuego and Acatenango, from its very inception, Antigua has been plagued by earthquakes. Prior to 1773, the government and citizens had always been able to rebuild the town, bigger and better than it had been before, but that year everything changed.

On July 29, 1773, the city was rocked and torn by the Santa Marta earthquake which left behind a nearly apocalyptic destruction. The government officials took it upon themselves to change the capital to Guatemala City. What had been the third largest city of the New World was abandoned – but not for long.

New Beginnings

Today, Antigua is the chief tourist destination – and for good reason too! As you step into the city, surrounded by ruins blanketed with a cover of bougainvillea and its historical Spanish colonial buildings and mansions that have been both preserved and restored, it almost seems as though time stopped here over three hundred years ago. With the Captain’s Palace, the Palace of the Noble City Hall and other architectural wonders, Antigua is the balm to sooth the tired and weary body, mind and soul.

Restore Your Body

Nearly all vacations are taken in the hope of relaxation and refreshment. We all love to be pampered, and most of us are eager to get out there and do something. Here is some of what you can do in Antigua:

  • Salsa: La Salsa Dance Company has classes for all levels; private, for couples and groups.
  • Yoga: There are classes available for all levels of experience, from beginners to experts, and drop-ins are welcomed.
  • Spa: You can chose from treatments such as luxurious facials, relaxing mud wraps and various massage techniques, including reflexology.

Learn the Spanish Language

Antigua is one of the leading cultural centers for Spanish studies and offers some of the best Spanish schools in Guatemala. You can choose from breathtakingly beautiful 5 star schools with top notch service and learning. Some are even willing to arrange to meet you at your home or hotel to take you to the campus. Yet others are gorgeous colonial campuses – serious learning institutions that has been built on proven educational methods.

Nourish Your Spirit

One of the first things you’ll notice as you explore all that Antigua has to offer is the multitude of churches that freckle the landscape. The religious history of Antigua has been so fundamental to its birth and constant renewal. There is peace to be found in its many cathedrals, chapels, convents and monasteries. There is no way you can visit Antigua without immersing yourself in the rich splendor and comfort provided by the Holy Church.

Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala

Perhaps the most amazing display of religious fervor and supplication to be found in Central America is Antigua’s Holy Week celebration. Huge processions wind there way down the streets and avenues, on giant floats bearing the image of Christ and His cross. As the procession marches along, their feet fall upon intricate and delicate sawdust carpets, fashioned of vibrant, colorful flowers – which are destroyed in the process.

Cathedral of Antigua

Inside the Cathedral of Antigua you’ll find several beautiful retable and religious images. Near the main entrance there are spectacular stucco high reliefs dating from the later 17th century. The Cathedral also offers a glimpse into the past via its historic cemetery, where the bones of the past conquerors and notables lie cradled beneath the earth. On the northern section of the Cathedral’s ruins you can also view the Archbishop’s Palace.

Markets, restaurants and more

These aren’t by any means the only wonders and treasures that Antigua has to offer. You can also find wonderful old-world style markets, fantastic restaurants, and exciting entertainment venues. If you wish to journey back to times long forgotten, and walk along the old cobblestone streets, there’s no better place to do it than Antigua Guatemala.