Antigua Guatemala, in the Department of Sacatepéquez, (Cerro de Hierba), may be the most outstanding and best-preserved colonial city in Spanish America. Tourists visit Antigua Guatemala every year from around the world to enjoy its natural beauty and historic monuments. The Spanish Colonial style permeates every part of the town: its houses, churches, squares, parks and ruins, also its traditions and folklore as well. Antigua is a city of charm and color where you can see and buy an overwhelming variety of attractive, handmade products that honor the traditions of generations of artisans.
Antigua’s temperate, climate and friendly inhabitants welcome visitors; the city has all the required services: sophisticated hotels, cafes and restaurants (with traditional or international menus), banks, stores, Internet cafés, travel agencies, Spanish-language schools and art galleries, all of the highest quality.
Antigua sits in a Highland valley (1,500 meters) overlooked by the spectacular Agua Volcano (3,765 meters high). A little further away are two other volcanoes Acatenango and the always smoking, sometimes erupting, Fuego. The neighboring towns and villages include Ciudad Vieja, Jocotenango, San Juan El Obispo, Santa María de Jesús, San Bartolomé Milpas Altas and Santa Catalina Barahona. Each of these towns is worth a visit, even if only to view their historic colonial churches.
Antigua’s kitchen offers a palate-pleasing combination of traditional flavors, aromas and condiments that produce a delicious, nutritious and varied menu, something you cannot miss.
Antigua is also noted for its crafts: terracotta, ceramics, wrought iron, silver and jade jewelry, wooden sculptures, carved colonial-style furniture, a great variety of traditional costumes and weavings, figured stone, brass, jarcia, traditional toys and much more.
To find more information about hand-crafts in Guatemala, logon to the Art and Culture section. Reinforcing Antigua’s international flavor are more than 50 Spanish language-schools that host students from all around the world.
Antigua, sited in the Panchoy Valley, was designated ‘La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala’ by the conquistadors in 1543 and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The festival of the town’s saint (Santiago or St James: Patron saint of the conquistadors) is celebrated July 25 th. After the conquest of the Maya by the Spanish, the races intermingled and their customs and traditions gave rise to a singular form of life, art and culture that is today reflected in every aspect of Antigua.
Places to Visit
Among the outstanding places to visit are:
The Plaza Mayor (Central Park)
The Palace of the Captain Generals
The Colonial Museum
The Historic Book Museum
The Santiago Museum or Palacio del Ayuntamiento (the municipality)
The churches of La Merced and San Francisco
The Ruins of Nuestra Señora del Pilar ( Las Capuchinas )
The ruins of Santa Clara
The ruins of San Agustín
• Plaza Mayor (Central Park)
Visitors and locals alike enjoy the landscaped Plaza Mayor where you will find the lovely fountain called La Fuente de las Sirenas built in 1739 by Diego de Porres surrounded by festive gardens. Ringing the Central Park is La Catedral Metropolitana, El Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, El Portal del Comercio and El Palacio del Del Noble Ayuntamiento.
• Catedral Metropolitana
Catedral Metropolitana was built in 1543, the cathedral has been semi-destroyed by earthquakes through the years, but is now partly restored and preserves the beautiful colonial details of its Spanish architecture.
• El Palacio de los Capitanes
Palacio de los Capitanes Generales colonial building was for several centuries the palace of the Spanish Kings’ governors. It has 26 two-story arches which extended over one hundred meters.
• Palacio del Noble Ayuntamiento
Palacio del Noble Ayuntamiento in colonial times (from 1743) was the headquarters for the Cabildo Español and later used as jail. Now located there are El Museo del Libro Antiguo, El Museo de Santiago and La Municipalidad de Antigua.