Located in the central highlands of Guatemala with charming old buildings, crumbling cathedrals, cobblestone streets, colorful palettes, bustling markets and buzzing cafes, Antigua is the last true Colonial City remaining in Latin America. It was once the glamorous capital of Guatemala before it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, left it mostly abandoned. Now the ruins are a tourist attraction. Antigua has retained its quaint, colonial charm and it is a perfect place for visitors to experience the true Guatemalan life. Here are the Top 8 Things To Do In Antigua.
Parque Central is the heart of Antigua and house the main cathedral and the colonial government buildings. Filled with bustling locals and foreigners, trees, benches, and all types of beauty, makes it the perfect place to people watch.
Santa Catalina Arch
Santa Catalina Arch is the symbol of Antigua. Constructed in the year 1649 for the nuns of the Convent of Mercy Nuetra to cross the road from a convent to a school without having to go outside. It was reconstructed along with the clock tower in the 19th century.
San Francisco Church
A stunning example of the beautiful architecture of Antigua is the San Francisco Church, with its twisted columns, religious statues and bell towers. This Spanish-American Baroque monastery was built in 1702 and destroyed in 1773. this 16th-century church has been destroyed so many times that very little of the original architecture remains.
Cerro de la Cruz
Antigua has a large cross constructed on a hillside overlooking the town. The cross is called, Cerro de la Cruz, and is a great spot to get a view of the city. It takes 30 minutes to walk up the hill north of Antigua.
La Merced Church
La Merced Church is arguably the prettiest baroque church in Antigua. The sidewalks and courtyards of La Merced are a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Inside the church, there is a preserved image of Jesus Christ with the Cross, which is considered one of the most beautiful images in the country.
Hike one of the many volcanoes surrounding Antigua. Acatenago at 3976 meter (13,045 ft), Fuego at 3763 meter (12,346 ft) and Auga at 3766 meter (12,356 ft) are all visible from Antigua. However, just outside of Antigua, you can find Volcan Pacaya at 2552 meter (8,373 ft), This is an active volcano. Opt for the early morning tour for reduced chances of mist and clouds, and a better view of the surrounding area. You have the option to do a day hike or camp out over night. Additionally, you can rent a horse for the trip if hiking isn’t your favorite activity. Source: beachesandbackpacks
There is a great history behind the country’s chocolate. Take a chocolate factory tour with Choco Museo right in the center of town. Guatemala produces excellent chocolate.
The market is a place you must visit when in Antigua, particularly on Saturday mornings. A sprawling mess at first glance, the Mercado is organized into sections (produce, clothing, cafeterias, fruits, meat market, fish market, etc.). Find foods, handcrafted art, clothing, and more and experience the culture this city has to offer.
Just So You Know…
Get Some Culture:
- Museum of Colonial Art – Preserves great architectural beauty and is located in front of the Cathedral’s ruins, on the building that once sheltered the University of San Carlos of Borromeo
- La Azotea Coffee Museum – Illustrates the history, processing, marketing and brewing of the coffee.
- El Fotografo – The only art gallery in Guatemala that displays only photography.