One of the world's most beautiful cities
Antigua is somewhere that takes hold of you and doesn't let go. The evocative ruins, purple jacaranda trees, beautiful old buildings, lovely friendly people and its volcanoes are all magical. It's built in a grid system, so it's easy to orientate yourself, as long as you remember the extinct volcano, Agua, is to the south and the hill with the cross is to the north. Don't visit the cross on your own - the tourist police take groups regularly (check the times in their office, just off the Parque Central on 4a Ave Norte). Walking to the cross can be a dangerous route where muggers hang out, knowing there'll always be some tourists too cool to go with the police.
There are wonderful shops in Antigua - don't miss Chocotenango inside Deliciosa on 3a Calle Poniente, 2, which sells fab handmade chocolates (very expensive but worth it). There are also lots of great delis - worth seeking out - including a really good one on 6a Ave Sur, which sells organic and veggie food and is run by two really lovely men, who will make food up to order. It's one of the few places that sells cakes not covered in sickly artificial icing.
The market in Antigua, at the end of Calles 3a and 4a Poniente, is superb. Don't go there looking like you have anything expensive as pickpocketing is rife. You can get great bargains though - just make sure any food you buy there (such as vegetables, rice etc) is well and truly washed in safe water before eating it. I miss the atmosphere, the way everyone smiles and says Buenas Dias to strangers and the sight of the volcano Fuego smoking.
Antigua Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and often said to be the best preserved colonial city in Spanish America. Its Spanish Colonial style is seen in its houses, churches, squares, parks, ruins, traditions and folklore.
Antigua is known for its natural beauty and historic monuments. Is also known for shopping - especially its crafs: terracotta, ceramics, wrought iron, silver and jade jewelry, wooden sculptures, carved furniture, traditional costumes, weavings, stonework, brasswork, jarcia, and traditional toys.
Antigua sits in a Highland valley (1,500 meters) by the amazing Agua Volcano (3,765 meters high). The active Acatenango volcano & the Fuego volcano are also nearby.
Neighboring towns and villages work a visit - Ciudad Vieja, Jocotenango, San Juan El Obispo, Santa María de Jesús, San Bartolomé Milpas Altas and Santa Catalina Barahona.
Places to visit while you are here:
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
This is the Church and Convent...
This is the Church and Convent of Santa Clara. The history of Santa Clara and the order of the Claristas nuns date back to 1695. The license for its establishment was obtained trough mediation of the Franciscan monk in the city. Founded by six nuns who came from Puebla, Mexico, the funds necessary for the establishment and maintenance of the nuns were provided through donation of local people, One of these was a widow who also gave her home, which served as a temporary residence for the nuns. Only bibliographic references remain of the original church and convent, since they were both destroyed in the earthquake of 1717.
The beautiful fountain in its...
The beautiful fountain in its cloister was the largest at that time.
The earthquakes if 1717 extensively damaged both the monastery and church; the latter was slowly rebuilt and was finally inaugurated in 1767. This imposing building, with three large naves, a majestic cupola, and elaborate baroque decorations on the outside, is what we still see today.
I fell in love with the Macadamia Nut Oil!
While staying in Antiqua in August of 2009, my sister and I took a fun bus ride to Valhalla Macademia Nut Farm (got lost by taking the wrong bus on the way, but that made it more fun!). I loved the owners and the unpretentious facilities. The pancakes looked better than they tasted (a little dry) but they were free and it was a fun meal. The bathroom there is a must see: it almost seems like a toilet and sink in the jungle, but it is actually in a facility that is overgrown with plants and flowers. The grounds are very pretty. I bought a few products to take home for gifts, but what I bought for myself and a couple of friends was the macadamia nut oil. I used the oil on my face at bedtime and it felt great! I has an earthly smell with a very slight nut odor. I fell in love with the stuff. I use it all the time now. I loved this place and it is an especially nice excursion if you aren't up for hiking up a volcano.