Torre Futura is one of the newest constructions in San Salvador and is intended to highlight the city’s appeal as a business destination. The Tower, built across from what is now the Crown Plaza, is a glass and steel construction that looks more like something from Panama than San Salvador. While it does have office space, there is also a secure patio with high-end restaurants and coffee bars, intended to provide residents of the surrounding areas with a closer and more appealing alternative to Gran Villa.
At one point, San Salvador was a small city around which there were numerous other towns and municipalities. One of these was Santa Tecla, a quaint, quiet town to the west of historic San Salvador. Since the end of the Civil War and the massive increase in construction, the city of San Salvador has engulfed many of the surrounding urban centres and there is now nothing more than a line on a map that separates the inhabitants of the various areas. Santa Tecla blends seemlessly into the rest of the country's capital, but that does not really mean that it is wholly a part of San Salvador. This municipality is an oasis from the violence, pollution and congestion of historic San Salvador, with cute Colonial-style homes and shops. Visitors to the city will be amazed by the slower pace of life and quieter atmosphere offered by this town beneath beautiful hills. An interesting note is that, despite the beauty of the surrounding foothills, there is currently a ban on building in the elevated areas of the municipality. This is because tremors, earthquakes and heavy rains have made the region particularly prone to landslides.
Parque José María San Martín lies at the heart of Santa Tecla. At one end of the park is a makeshift market that is, by far, much safer than the markets in the centre of San Salvador. The park also has great views of the surrounding hills and greenery, complimented by the central monument that grants it that feeling of being a quaint, provincial town. Another statue, dedicated to the famous Saint Theresa, lies in a corner of the park. Despite the violence and instability of the capital city, this park is an oasis of tranquility, and as such it attracts many families and ordinary citizens looking to be able to enjoy themselves outdoors without fear.
This former hacienda, located in the city of Santa Tecla, just outside of San Salvador, is a great little piece of quiet and relaxation. It is frequently the scene of minor cultural events (local bands and art exhibitions), which are complemented by a small café that operates inside the house. It has been restored (there was, undoubtedly, some damage during the last earthquake), with beautiful tiles in many of the rooms. This is a perfect photo opportunity for anyone looking for traditional Colonial architecture in a spot safer than the core.
Coatepeque Lake is about a 1/2 hour drive from Joya de Ceren. It is a beautiful freshwater lake, and various water sports are available.
Rancho Alegre restaurant is a great place for lunch--good food, and dining areas that extend over the water.
Take the Pan American Highway North, and turn onto the Lago Coatepeque road. It is paved for a while, and then becomes a dirt road. Turn in at the first place you can to reach the lake
Joya de Cerén is the only Unesco World Heritage Site in El Salvador. It is often referred to as the Pompeii of America because it was buried by volcanic ashes in AD 595 when the Laguna Caldera Vulcan had an eruption. Joya de Cerén is not as grand as Pompeii, but still a very interesting place to visit.
Joya de Cerén was a Mayan village and remains beneath the ashes have given a great insight in how common people lived. Most pre-Colombian archaeological sites in Central America shows temples, tombs and palaces, but at Joya de Cerén you can see how people in the villages lived. Protected under tin roof are several structures of houses, storages, kitchens ,a sauna and a shaman house. In one place you can also see the ridges of the maize field.
No human buddies have been found at Joya de Cerén so people probably had time to escape, but items found indicate they left in a hurry. Many of the artefacts found at the site are displayed in a museum at Joya de Cerén. I would very much have liked to see this museum, but unfortunately it was closed for renovation when we visited. There are a few artefacts at the Museum of Anthropology in El Salvador though and those I had seen the previous day.
You can only visit the site on a guided tour. When we arrived we had to wait for the next tour and then we had time to visit the souvenir stall and have a drink in the café. Our guide was very good and explained things in a good way. Even if it was mostly in Spanish I could understand most of it. She also explained a few things in English for me.
As the museum was closed for renovation we didn’t have to pay entrance fee. Otherwise it had been 3 dollars for foreigners and 1 dollar for El Salvadorians (June 2009).
The Archaeological Park of Joya de Cerén is open on Tuesdays - Sundays between 9 - 17.
Thank you Nancy, Marco and Ana Emma for taking me here!
Joya de Cerén is situated 36km west of San Salvador. If you visit by bus you should take bus 108 from San Salvador.
At the Archaeological Park of San Andrés you can see old Maya ruins, not as impressive as in Mexico and Guatemala, but still interesting. San Andrés was the capital of Valle de Zapotitlán between AD 600 - 900. At its peak it is believed that up to 12 000 people lived here. The park covers an area of 35 hectares and it was inaugurated in 1996.
The ruins of San Andrés were buried in 1658 when Vulcán Playón had an eruption and not until 1977 the pyramids of San Andrés were unearthed again. Not all mounds have jet been unearthed though. Excavations have mainly been done around the political and ceremonial centre. The main pyramid by the great plaza has a bell shape and it is 15 metres high. Nearby there is a subterranean tunnel. Restoration has been done and protective walls cover some of the ruins.
Near the car park there is nice museum which is good to visit before continuing to the ruins. There is also a café and a few souvenir stands. Next to the museum there is an indigo dying place from colonial times.
The Archaeological park is open Tuesdays - Sundays between 9 - 17.
Admission was 3 dollars (June 2009) for foreigners and 1 dollar for El Salvadorians.
I was very happy to visit San Andrés together with Nancy (VT-member conejita71) and her brother (Marco) and his wife (Ana Emma). Thank you so much for a great day!
If you come on your own San Andrés (together with Joya de Cerén) can easily be visited by bus from both San Salvador and Santa Ana. San Andrés is situated 33 km west of San Salvador.
Vulcán San Salvador (Quezaltepeque) is situated northwest of the city and it has two peaks. The highest peak is Picacho with 1967m and the other is Jabali with 1397m. Jabali has a symmetrical crater called El Boquerón. The crater is 45m high and it got its present look after an eruption in 1917.
With a guide you can walk around the crater, or down in the crater. Otherwise you can walk to the three viewpoints near the parking lot , which most people do. We arrived at 16.45 and saw on a sign that the site was closing at 17.00, but as we asked we were told it closed at 17.30, which was good.
By the parking lot you pay the admission of 1 dollar, and there you will also find many vendors selling pupusas and fruits.
You can take a weekend trip to Guatemala. It is a 4 hour bus trip, using Pullmantur (pickup point is 7am or 3 pm (M-F) or 8:30 am Sunday at the Marriott Hotel in San Salvador and dropoff point is Holiday Inn in Guatemala City). You can return to San Salvador any day, leaving Guatemala Holiday Inn at 7 am or 3 pm. It costs $47 roundtrip for Second Class plus the $10 you will have to pay for tourist visa to reenter El Salvador (bring your passport). Or you can buy a package deal including the hotel cost, which will be a little extra. This includes meals and the bus is very nice (footrests and reclining seats). They show 2 movies on the way there and 2 movies on the return trip. The only problem is the bumpy road the entire trip. And I would not suggest eating the food they provide, as it is served room temperature. This website for pullmantur is pretty good, if you need help translating from Spanish to English, please drop me a note. They also offer first class for $77 roundtrip
Suchitoto has been trying to sell itself as a cultural town. It has some small art galleries and a pretty good rastaurant with This view you are seeng here.
Alejandro Coto is an excentric individual who is trying to promote this place. You can visit him at his house, though he charges for visits now!
A hermit also used to live not long ago near the lake. you could take a boat and pay him a visit, but he is not there anymore. They say he moved over to Los Angles, Californa! What a change!
Two interesting sites to visit are Los Planes de Renderos / Puerta del Diablo, a rock formation with spectacular views of San Salvador on one side and the Volcanoes and Pacific Ocean on the other side. There are also several pupusa stands where you can taste this traditional salvadorean dish. The second one is located on the other side of the city: the San Salvador volcano, where one can almost drive up to the crater, there's a lookout into the crater, hiking into the crater and a fantastic view of the city below
There are a number of stunning lakes not far from San Salvador--to the north is Lake Souchitan about an hour out of the capital. Best view from Souchitoto--a charming art town.