beautiful Colonial City, founded on march 10th of 1543, is located in
the picturesque valley of "PANCHOY"
and was originally named "LA MUY NOBLE Y MUY LEAL CIUDAD DE
SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GOATHEMALA" (The very Noble and
Very Loyal City of St. James of the Knights of Goathemala).
of visitors agree with Antigua has been suspended in the time, keeping
as a treasure, an extraordinary architectural and historical
heritage, that must be known around the world.
order to help our visitors, to enjoy the most amazing experience
visiting the different colonial monuments, markets and interesting
places, we suggest you the following self-guide-walking-tour.
is the heart of the city. In the traditional grid layout used so often
in the Spanish urban development of the colonial era was the starting
point in 1543 to lay out the city and it is attributed to Juan Bautista
the Major Plaza (Plaza Mayor) :
THE NORTH: (AL
suggest you to visit the beautiful ""PALACIO DEL AYUNTAMIENTO""
today the City Hall. It is
a two-level- stone-carved building and its facade is decorated with 24
arches. The City Hall of Antigua hosts the Mayor's office, Banks,
restaurants and the Museum of St. James (Museo de Santiago) where you
can see the antique weapons used by Spaniards and indigenous during the
conquest epoch. In addition, you
admire a big painting of Don Pedro de Alvarado, painted by the recognized
Guatemalan artist ""Garavito"",
and also you will see the conqueror's sword which was restored in
on the right side of this building you can find the antique book museum
(museo del libro antiguo) where the first printing press replica is
shown, which was operated for the first time in the year of 1660. This printing press was brought from Mexico by Fray Payo
Enriquez de Rivera. You can se some printing works, made in this
printing press in its epoch."
THE WEST/(AL PONIENTE)
can walk along the ""PORTAL DE LOS MERCADERES"", and
you should taste the
Antigua's Coffee, in the historical ""CASA DEL CONDE DE LA
THE SOUTH/(AL SUR)
will find the Captain-General's Palace
( Palacio de los Capitanes Generales) which with its gigantic dimensions
and its massive construction of
solid stone columns, is one of the most magnificent buildings of this
romantic Colonial City.
building hosted very important offices in the past, such as The Court of
Justice, Treasury, The Royal Seal Room , Notary Public Office, and of
course the Captain's General Office. There was a place for a prison, a
chapel and a very large patios. This building was attached to the
residence and palace of the Captain- General. Its
construction starts in 1558 and it was a two-level-wooden- building.
palace suffered the damages caused by the earthquakes, so several
reconstructions were needed.
Now it is a two-level-building with 27 arcades in each story,
constructed by Luis Diez de Navarro.
reconstruction works began, as a part of a project to convert this place to a museum.
THE EAST/(AL ORIENTE)
can admire the San Jose's cathedral Church which has the rank of
Metropolitan since the colonial epoch. Its construction started en 1542
and its appearance was very simple, but in
this church became extraordinarily big, under the mastership of Joseph
de Porres. It was initially designed and divided into 5 naves and 68
smaller chambers, 16 chapels including the Royal Chapel and 73 windows
illuminated its interior
and the access was possible through 6 gates. In the backside there is a
very big belfry and therefore the 3th avenue was
""THE STREET OF THE BELLS"" (Calle de las Campanas).
to some authors, in this chambers and crypts rest the remains of Don
Pedro de Alvarado, Do-a Leonor de Alvarado, Don Pedro de Portocarrero,
Don Bernal Diaz del Castillo and the Bishop Francisco Marroquin.
facade shows today the sculptures of Sr. James, The Virgin Mary, the
Eternal Father, the twelve Apostles and a Priest.
ART MUSEUM (MUSEO DE
important museum is located in the building which housed the San Carlos
University during the colonial epoch.
this museum represents a pleasure, admiring very famous paintings of artists
such as Tom‡s de Merlo, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Correa and Cristobal de
Villalpando, and sculptures of the imaginary of the epoch, most of them
from anonymous sculptors. In its Class rooms you can appreciate how the
Graduating Test was performed by students. Walking along its corridors
admiring its impressive architecture, is also an unforgettable
AND CHURCH OF SANTA CLARA:
was founded 1699 by a group of nuns from Puebla, Mexico who were known
as ""MONJAS CLARISAS"". Then,
after suffering badly damages due to the earthquakes of 1717, the reconstruction
was started and it was finished in 1734 taking the present appearance.
this monument offers the visitors two interesting facts: Its beautiful
central patio and garden and the experience of visiting the
echo-chamber where the sacristy was located.
AND CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO EL GRANDE:
of the first Religious Congregations established in Guatemala was the
""Franciscana"" they came here in 1527-1530. Possibly
due to this, they were the first Religious Order in constructing
and convents in this country.
The first construction of their church was in 1579, and at the same time
they built their convent which housed the ""COLEGIO DE SAN
BUENAVENTURA"" . for a long time.
facade is decorated in a Barroco Style and presents 16 niches in some of
which the stucco images of San Francisco,
The Virgin Mary , Santa Clara, St.James and the Beato Hermano
Pedro de San Jose de Betancourt, still remain. The Hermano Pedro died on
April 25th of 1667 and his tomb is today visited by tourists and
pilgrims from the
entire country and abroad.
assure that Hermano Pedro acquired miraculous attributes after his death
and therefore the church of San Francisco is
a place of pilgrimage and gratitude, so, visiting this church is
practically obligated when you come to La Antigua. In the sacristy the
MUSEO DEL HERMANO PEDRO is
located and it shows his wardrobe,
his bell, his habit and his blankets, in almost perfect
is a colonial house of the 17th century. Today is considered as
a museum which offers the visitors the opportunity to imagine how
the Spaniard used to live in those days. Its decoration and furniture
and its attractive architecture are the most interesting elements of
this beautiful building.
corridors, gargoyles, patios and fountains can be admired in its
interior. There is a large collection of paintings of Pedro de Alvarado,
Hermano Pedro de Betancourt and the Bishop Francisco Marroquin and of
course a beautiful sculpture of St. James the Apostle ( Apostol
Santiago) Patron Saint of La Antigua. This house can be visited only in
the afternoons from 2.00 P.M.. to 4.00 P.M. everyday except on Sundays.
AND CONVENT OF SANTO DOMINGO:
was considered one of the most beautiful and monumental complex, that
ever existed, and also the order that had more financial resources than
any other in its
epoch. Its construction was started in 1542 and its church, of very
special characteristics, shows a beautiful facade in which two enormous
towers were constructed. In one of them, the biggest clock
brought to Guatemala from Europe in 1543, was installed. The church and
the convent, hosted an immense treasure of colonial art of remarkable
artist such as Martin de Ugaldo, Alonzo de la Paz and Pedro de Liendo.
configuration includes Dorms, meeting Rooms, and patios and gardens
decorated with fountains.
Historical references let us to know that , in the convent was a big
monks usually spent time, rowing and fishing. Dominicans were promoters
of the University's foundation in our country and they ceded the land
where later, the Santo Tomas de Aquino College was constructed.
OF NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR DE ZARAGOZA (CAPUCHINAS):
was the 5th and the last convent of Nuns, founded in the city, which
belonged to the Madrid's Nuns. Its architecture is a part of the
stone-carved-buildings of the city, and it was built in 1736 under the
direction of Don Diego de Porres, Major-Architect of the city. Its solid
construction is similar to the Castilla's fortress. Its swears and
drains system shows the ingenuity of its design.
of its most important attractive is the impressive ""TORRE DEL
RETIRO" a retreatment and penitence tower which was built in a
circular form and counts with
18 cells and dorms where the Nuns usually did penitence activities.
AND CHURCH OF LA MERCED:
was built in 1548 and also suffered the damages of the earthquakes, and
this situation concerned to LOS PADRES MERCEDARIOS whose previewing more
earthquakes in the future, decided to rebuild the first construction in
order to make it stronger and solid, responsibility assumed by Architect
Juan de Dios Estrada, who designed and directed the construction works
and finished it in 1767. Its thick walls, and
its short chambers, saved the building from the fury of
earthquakes of Santa Marta in 1773. The
exquisite baroque-styled-facade shows an extraordinary stuccoes finishing which was made using the recognized ""ATAURIQUE-TECHNIC"".
this facade one can appreciate very important sculptures such as Our
Lady of Las Mercedes and San Pedro Nolasco. In its interior you
will see one of the most beautiful fountains of the city,
in an octagonal form and with four bridges from the edge to the center,
and the base or bowl decorated with the same technique.
OF SAN JERONIMO:
and college of the MERCEDARIAS order was built with no authorization of
the Crown and due to this, its demolition was ordered, however this
order was disobeyed. Its construction was finished in 1759 and in 1765
authorities from Spain determined to install in this building the ROYAL
CUSTOM OFFICE, and a150 men-detachment was sent to the place. Inside of
this building you can see the beautiful fountain in the center of the
patio, in the same place where one day, the kitchen and a Chapel were
OF LA RECOLECCION:
beautiful building housed the order of the Fathers Recoletos. Its
construction started in 1701 and was finished in 1715, under the
direction of the architects Jose and Diego de Porres.
building includes study rooms, music rooms, cells, cloisters and
architectural complex shows vestiges of the LA CASA DE LOS RECOLECTOS,
which in words of historians ,
it was a Hospital. In addition to the damages suffered by the
earthquakes of the epoch, its beautiful arch shook down during the
earthquake of 1976.
HOUSE OR TRADITIONAL MAYAN MUSIC MUSEUM:
odd museum offer you a little sample of Musical Instruments of the
Pre-Colonial epoch. Some of
them were introduced by
Spaniard to this country. The most important Musical Instruments are:
TUN (Drum), CONCHAS DE TORTUGA (Turtle Shell), ARPA (Harp), CHIRIMIA
(Flute) VIOLIN AND THE MARIMBA (Wooden-Keyboard). In this place you will
have the opportunity to watch
a video tape about the evolution of the ""MARIMBA"",
and also, you will see the COFRADIA, decorated as the original ones.
the most important traditional marketplace in the country. This market
is open everyday, however the most intensive activity take place on
Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
suggest you to visit this place in
the mornings. This market close its doors at 4:00 P.M..
can buy fresh vegetables and fruits,
pride of the region for its high quality and
you can also admire the colorful of the typical costumes worn by the
native women, which represent the surrounding towns. A big selection of hand-crafts, typical of this region, is
very interesting marketplaces, exhibits crafts made by authentic
Antigua's people. You can
buy: Ceramics, jade, silver, wood, brass, leather, jaspe paper and
marble. The building, houses the market, two patios, wide corridors and
more or less a hundred of small locales.
OF THE ANTIQUE COSTUME /(CASA DEL TRAJE ANTIGUO):
house was founded by its owner Doña Alida Perez, and offers the visitors
a very big selection of typical costumes from different regions of the
country. You can take a walking-tour led by a guide who have a very deep
acknowledgment in textiles and provide a very important information
about the meaning of its decoration
and about the area where the textile comes from.
AND CONVENT OF ""LA COMPAÑIA DE JESUS"":
construction started on July 18th of 1626, and was finished until the
convent was built..
monumental building is located where the Bernal Diaz del Castillo's
house was situated, but the earthquakes registered in Valle de Panchoy
caused damages to the structure, so its reconstruction in 1755 was
necessary. This monument was a two-level building which was the convent,
and then , the church, the cloister and gardens completed the complex.
Recently the CENTRO IBEROAMERICANO DE FORMACION, accomplished
reconstruction-works in this historical monument. This place is always
open and you can visit it with no fees.
School was constructed around 1758. The organization that occupied the
building was in charge of giving religious education. The main entrance
is a portico with four composite ribbed columns and a very elaborate
entablature with a vaulted niche with the image of the virgin Mary.
cloister is formed of mix linear arches crowned with Marian
coats-of-arms. There is a small chapel with its sacristy in the center of
PONTIFICAL UNIVERSITY OF SAN CARLOS DE GUATEMALA COLONIAL ART MUSEUM
San Carlos University was founded on the Royal Orders by King Charles II
on January 31, 1676 as a result of the efforts by Bishop Francisco
Marroquin and became the third oldest University in America. The
building was constructed en 1763, apparently under the direction of
Bernardo Ramirez. The University was in operation ins this building
until 1776 when the capital
to the Valley of the Hermitage (also called of the Virgin).
beautiful place can be visited on Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 am to 4.00
pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 am to 12.00 n. and from 2.00 to
4.00 pm. And the entrance fee is Q 10.00.
CONVENT AND ARCH OF SANTA CATALINA This church and convent was a
reclusion for nuns. The religious organization was established en 1609.
The church opened on September 15, 1647. The arch or bridge over the
street, that was used to communicate the convent with the orchard and
the gardens, was completed en 1694.
is a tank for public use. It was inaugurated in 1853 in the called Plaza
de San Pedro. Today is identified with the same name of the park where
it is located.
VISIT TO SURROUNDING TOWNS NEAR TO ANTIGUA.
is two kilometers away from the main plaza. It was founded in
1541 by indigenous people who came from Santiago in Almolonga after the
city was destroyed by the flood. The main occupation of its inhabitants
is masonry pig breeding. The
façade of the church is decorated with Salomonic pilasters on the first
body and padded pilasters on the second and third bodies.
were added when the church was reconstructed after the 1717 earthquake.
On the North side of the church is the Virgin's Chapels covered by
vaults with lanterns at the end.
very important town located in VALLE DE ALMOLONGA in the slopes of
VOLCAN DE AGUA, it was the
2nd site where the CAPITAL DEL REYNO was situated. (1527-1541)
almost totally by the floods it is today a very interesting place to be
visited, specially for its Colonial Church with barroco style facade,
and its vestiges of the palace of Doña Beatriz de la Cueva (La
Sinventura). This town is 4 kms. from La Antigua."
ANTONIO AGUAS CALIENTES:
town with primitive strokes, located 8 kms from La Antigua, and producer
of excellent typical textiles which has been recognized around the
world." You can enjoy the trip across coffee plantations and
visiting its old church and the Hand-crafts market place.
CRISTOBAL EL BAJO
town is south of Antigua on the road that leads to San Juan El Obispo.
The hermitage was constructed before 1625 and reconstructed twice after
the earthquakes of 1717 and 1976.
façade is of the altar-piece type and is formed by two bodies with
crowning on the façade.
are vaulted niches with images in each body.A very special detail is on
the octagonal window at the center
of the second body, where there is an image of St. Christopher in
another vaulted niche. The church has only one nave which is covered by
wood and roof tile, with
of the presbytery that is covered by a dome. An outstanding piece of
imagery is the Nazareth of the XVII century.
JUAN DEL OBISPO:
Small town located in the slopes of Volcan de Agua , 5kms
from La Antigua."
Historical worth is represented by two very important monuments: Its
houses the most beautiful barroco style samples and its impressive
the other hand the monumental Palace constructed by the Bishop Francisco
where this celebrity spent his last days. The church and the palace were
built in 1547. Today the palace is under the supervision
of the HERMANAS CARMELITAS. From this place you will have a beautiful
view, specially in sunny days, because the landscape shows Antigua and
the entire Panchoy's Valley.
MARIA DE JESUS
town is on the foot of the Agua Volcano, ten minutes awai from San
Juan del Obispo and the ascent to the summit of the volcano begins here.
It was founded at the end of the XVI century and its first inhabitants
possibly came from Quetzaltenango. They supplied the inhabitants of
Antigua with firewood and ice. The ice was obtained from the summit of
the volcano. The most important festivities are celebrated on January 2
(the Sweet Name) and in
June (corpus Christi).
FELIPE DE JESUS:
small town is located 2 kms from La Antigua and represents a pilgrimage
place all year long, but specially in the first Friday of Easter and
during the Holy-Week. Its
church of Gothic style is unique in the region and its Christ image was
carved by the recognized sculptor Quirio Cataño.
ceramic work from Antigua is of Spanish origin. Two types of ceramic are
made here: Glazed ceramic (majolica) that dates
back to the XVI century. Different pieces for home use and for
decoration, like tiles, are made in this style. This type of ceramic is
done only in the shop of the Montiel family. The second type is painting
ceramic that includes : owls, fruits, vegetables, piggy banks, Nativity
scenes, butterflies and birds.
technique was brought by the Spaniards and has preserved the shapes that
identify the Colonial style. This art of Ironwork is used to make
decorations and even furniture.
is a large number of carpenters that manufacture furniture in a unique
colonial style. Excellent wood carvers are found in ciudad Vieja.
ornamental objects are made with this technique which consists of
engraving with fire over wood.
are in huge demand by church-goers because or religious traditions that are deeply rooted in the people. Candles of up to five
pounds are made
that are used by the brotherhoods.
candles decorated with crowns or wax flowers (called palmatorias),
colored decorative candles and small candles used in homes are made.
Votive offerings are also made to give thanks. They are made in the
shape of the miracle that was granted: a heart, an arm, a leg etc.
famous candy from Antigua are made from natural fruits and wonderful
mixtures of mil, eggs and other ingredients. This candy is sold in the
market at San Felipe and candy stores everywhere en Antigua the most
famous and old is the "Doña Maria Gordillo" Tienda.
traditional textiles are made by the women in waist looms or stick looms
with a complicated procedure of weaving and wrapping. The best place to
see this done is San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a weaver's center, where
you may acquire a wide range of textiles.Easter Week is a time of many
traditions and religious fervor when the Passion of Christ is
commemorated with rituals that take place during Lent and end during the
Holy Week with processions and vigils.
Via Crucis is prayed every Lent Friday. It goes though the Chapels of
the Steps from the church of San Francisco to the Calvary. This
tradition was initiated in Antigua Guatemala by Brother Pedro de San José
de Bethancourt in the XVII century. Every Sunday there is a procession
of the Nazareth. It is from a different village each time and it passes
through the main streets of the city during several hours. Holy
Week starts on Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) with great splendor. Thursday
and Friday are days of great devotion with the processions of Holy
Burial and the commemoration ends on Easter Sunday with the celebration
of the Resurrection.
Citizens and the Brotherhoods prepare beautiful carpets made with dyed
sawdust, flowers, scraps of paper and many more materials for which they
use the imagination at their best.
vigils take place during the course of Lent in the churches of the city
and of the villages. Vegetable gardens are simulated inside the churches
with a large variety of fruits, flowers and birds that give the
festivities a unique touch. During de course of this religious cycle,
the penitents who are called "cucuruchos" dress in purple
tunics and in black tunics, on holy Friday. They carry various
processions with the images of the Nazareth and of Christ in the
Sepulcher. The images of
the Virgin Mary, San Juan and Maria Magdalena are also carried in
processions. Part of the procession is a band of musicians that play
funerary marches. Considering
Antigua is clearly a tourist town where there are lots of things to be
seen, it is worthwhile to take strolls and stop at those places that may
call your attention. Therefore you can go on tours that range from
handcrafts to architecture, statues, jade factories, etc. Visiting
Antigua on a single day will hardly please you.
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