Antigua, Guatemala

Cathedral of Santiago
Moving on from the tiny village of San Marcos via public boat to the opposite side of Lake Atitlan was arranged by simply walking down to the town dock.  Boats depart to the other villages on the Lake about every 30 minutes.  Once in Panajachel, we hopped into the prearranged vehicle and were wound through the mountainous roads yet again.  Discovering Atitrans Shuttle through a friend’s recommendation, we enjoyed the trip in a relatively new vehicle with good tires and seat belts.  These niceties had not been available on any of the other transportation that we had found.

For me, the visit to Antigua was something
Santa Rosa
new to explore, for Alan it was a return to a place he had lived briefly, over 35 years ago.  While living there he experienced the 7.5 earthquake of 1976. Awoken by the shaking, he had gone out into the courtyard.  After determining that the volcano had not erupted, he went back inside and feel asleep, only to discover the massive destruction the following day.  That 3:01 A.M. tremor of  Feb. 4 killed 23,000.  Luckily, the structure he was sleeping in was sturdier than the adobe huts that had collapsed on so many through the area.

Earthquakes have shaped the city’s history.  From 1543 until 1775, the city was the capital of the country, which at that time encompassed most of Central America.  A 1717 quake had destroyed 3000 building, followed decades later with multiple quakes in 1773.  Two years later, King Charles III of Spain  decided to move the capital to safer ground, the current capital, Guatemala City.  Even though the Crown had ordered the city be abandoned, not everyone left.

Details from San Fransisco
As a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is home to numerous, well-preserved or renovated churches.  Wandering around the city, we wondered at the number of large churches but, during the 1770’s, the city was home to around 60,000.

Staying just a couple of blocks from the center of town, we walked toward Parque Central after getting settled into our new hotel.  Approaching the center of the city, we found a group of musicians playing in front of the Palace of the Captain Generals, a building, which dates back to 1558.  A crowd formed across the street in the Park.  Over the next few days, we found a variety of performers entertaining for tips within the popular square.          

Walking around the city is easy due to the grid layout, but looking down periodically to assess the
Details from La Merced, the city's most beautiful church.
sidewalk in front of your feet is a good idea.  Cobblestone streets connect the ruins and renovations of churches and convents that are dotted throughout the city.  Tourism and Spanish language classes are the two top moneymakers for Antigua, so there is no shortage of hotels and restaurants.  Being approached by countless individuals selling jewelry, flutes and items made from fabric was part of the daily experience. 

Shopping in the Municipal Market can be a lively and colorful experience.  While not nearly as large as the Chichi market, there are wonderful varieties of food items fresh from the farm, one vendor sold nothing but eggs, another sold several types of mangoes, another sold chili peppers, but you could also buy shoes or blenders or just about anything else you might need.   In one area of the market, there were a number of merchants chanting out their prices as though they were auctioneers. 

Arco de Santa Catalina with Aqua Volcano in the background

One of the most photographed locations is probably the Arco de Santa Catalina, located along 5a Avenida Norte.  The arch is a remnant of a convent originally built in 1613.  It was renovated and the clock added in the 1830's.  On a clear day, the view of the Aqua Volcano with the arch in the foreground creates a beautiful shot.

Wandering the streets of Antigua is a unique experience. We enjoyed our exploring there, but it is now time to return home.  Our next trip is undecided at this time, but we'll be sure to take you along.


Local taking a short break

Market place in front of Santa Teresa

Monk watching the entertainment at Church of San Francisco

Horse carriage and horsemen at Central Park
Local Mom

Alan at our favorite breakfast spot

Aqua Volcano

One of the city's workman cleaning up the park.
Near the finish line of a 5K run

Religious procession
Santo Calvario

Thickness of doors at Santo Calvario

Band playing at Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
Parque Central

Rooftop next to La Merced with Agua Volcano faintly in the background

Church of San Francisco- built in 1579, is the burial place of Central America's first saint,
Hermano Pedro

Municipal Market
Mime in the park

Street performers

Church and Convent of las Capuchinas
Fountain inside convent at La Merced

San Jose El Veijo

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