Tegucigalpa the Capital
You’ll find Honduras’s capital city if you journey to the country’s southern region and enter into the Francisco Morazan Province. It’s a massive area, with a population of over one million people. In an area constantly plagued by floods, earthquakes and other violent turns of nature, Tegucigalpa has been miraculously untouched. The city has never had to be rebuilt, and you can still stand before Colonial buildings that have withstood wars, uprisings and hundreds of years of life and activity. This is perhaps one of the deciding factors that established the city as the nation’s capital back in 1880.
A Glimpse into the Past
Tegucigalpa has a long enduring history as a major mining hub. The two major minerals you’ll find in Tegucigalpa are silver and gold, in that order. In fact, many scholars claim that the tongue twister name Tegucigalpa is a Nahuatl word that means “Silver Mountain.” Others doubt the translation, and have supplied alternative meanings like, “place where men meet” or “colored stones.” While no one is quite sure which translation is correct, all of the meanings are quite suited for the city. In the ancient past, the area was populated by the Native American people, the Lenca. There are many descendants of the Lenca people left in the area, but the language has died out and there isn’t a whole lot of solid information on their culture. In modern Tegucigalpa, not only will you find Native American citizens, but also their later neighbors of European descent. In recent times (beginning in the early 1900’s) there was also an influx of Arab and Chinese immigrants, both of which have made their own distinct impact and impressions within the city.
Check Out Colonial Cathedrals
Tegucigalpa is blessed with a very pleasant climate, in part due to their slight elevation of about 1000 meters. These conditions mean that on-foot explorations of the city’s wonders are a great way to pass the time. Everywhere you look, you’ll be greeted with visions inspired by a rich and tumultuous past. But of all the sights to see in Tegucigalpa, none can compare with the magnificence of the many ancient churches. And, quite fortunately, they are all within easy walking distance of one another. As you explore the beauty of Tegucigalpa, be sure to check out these churches:
- St. Michael Archangel Church. This church dates back to 1782 and can be found in the heart of the city’s central park.
- The Los Dolores Church. Built in 1732, this is probably the most amazing church of them all. Take time to check it out – its two blocks west and then two blocks north of the Central Park.
- San Francisco Church. This is the oldest of all of the buildings in Tegucigalpa. It dates back to 1590 and is located three blocks east of central park.
- Another church to explore on your journey is La Merced Church. It was constructed in 1650 and is situated next to the National Art Gallery, which used to be home to the acting priest.
After you’ve immersed yourself in the churches, parks and shops of Tegucigalpa, there are plenty of other nearby towns you won’t want to miss (or you might not want to accidentally stumble into). While two are quite literally right next door, the others are treasures set in the nearby mountains.
- Comayaguela. Technically, Comayaguela doesn’t quite qualify as a separate city, since it became part of Tegucigalpa proper back in 1938. It’s situated just opposite of Tegucigalpa on the other side of the Choluteca River and is fondly referred to as the “Sister City.” However, keep in mind that Comayaguela is a bit racier and more dangerous than Tegucigalpa, so be careful!
- El Picacho. This is a beautiful national park located at the north end of Tegucigalpa. It’s most famous feature is a very large statue of Christ that can be spotted from below. For the best view of the city from El Picacho, be sure to visit the overlook situated at the foot of the statue. You’ll also find some amazing gardens, including a Confucian garden, the United Nations garden and a small national zoo.
- Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia is a nearby mountain town that is renowned for its amazing scenery, an old Colonial church and some cute market shops. The city is also home to an interesting Serpentarium for all of you snake fans.El Picacho. This is a beautiful national park located at the north end of Tegucigalpa. It’s most famous feature is a very large statue of Christ that can be spotted from below. For the best view of the city from El Picacho, be sure to visit the overlook situated at the foot of the statue. You’ll also find some amazing gardens, including a Confucian garden, the United Nations garden and a small national zoo.
- Valle de Angeles. If you ask anyone what you should do in Valle de Angeles, you’ll most likely hear this, “Shopping!” Valle de Angeles is perhaps the best place in the entire country if you’re looking for souvenirs and locally crafted items – especially wood working! Valle de Angeles is only about an hour away from Tegucigalpa if you take the bus.
A Plethora of Possibilities
Due to its size, location and affordable hotels, Tegucigalpa makes an ideal “base camp” as you set about exploring the southern region of Honduras. And on Sundays, you can kick back and enjoy watching a nice game of soccer – Honduras’s number one pastime! Whatever tantalizes your imagination – whether its beautiful architecture, ancient churches, local handicrafts or leisurely strolls through national parks – there’s more than enough of it to go around in Tegucigalpa.