This is more of a locals plaza as most tourists hang out at the larger Parque Central. The plaza has a series of nice, tall palm trees and has major attractions Iglesia de Santa Clara and the Public Laundry on its east end and the very beautiful Sociales Obras de Hermano Pedro on the west end. In the plaza stands a carved stone cross that was given to the city by their sister city in Spain, Santiago de Campostela. In the early evenings local food carts set up shop along the southwest corner and cook up great street food.
This famous Latin poet and author is Antigua's most famous citizens. He lived in the 1700's and although his greatest works were produced while livign in Italy, he is still remembered here with this monument, which is also his final resting point.
Elizabeth Bell or Roberto Spillari take you on a walking English tour of certain parts of the city. She is american but has lived in Antigua for a very long time. She knows all about the culture, social changes that have happened in the last 20 years. She's a fascinating women, very blunt and to the point. I kinda wanted to sit down with her and pick her brain over beers. Try to get E. Bell, I don't know how the other person is. Her office is right next to Hotel Santo Domingo in the North East part of town. The office has funky hours so go in the middle of the day and book your reservation. $18 per person, but she does say that she donates to certain social causes.
The day we went was one of the most beautiful days I've ever seen, completely and uterly magnificant.
The school of crist was established in 1543 by the Franciscan Order. The original structure was damaged numerous times by earthquakes. The current chirch was built in 1728. This church along with Merced have the largest Santa Semana processions.
This striking baroque building houses the ongoing work of Santo Hermano Pedro which is to provide medical attention to the poor. Their mission statement (from their website) reads:
"To offer with love and charity, a high level of attention to the people of low income, patients needing surgery, those needing basic preventive service and health specialization, food, clothing, education, both moral and spiritual, in coordination with volunteers from both national and foreign organization."
As it is still a functioning facility there isn't much to see although you might ask if you can explore the inside grounds. Otherwise you can just admire the exterior architecture which is quite stunning.
Very interesting village tour organized by a Women's Collective.
Learn about local culture and history and see incredible handicraft skills up close.
I have worked quite extensively with this village and have really grown to love it.
I'm sure everyone who has ever come to Antigua would have a picture of this beautiful historic arch. There is a spectacular view of the volcano on the other side. The trick is to come early to get a picture without the tourists.
This beautiful yellow arch is all that's remaining of what was the Convent of St Catherine.
The Museo Casa del Tejido is a very interesting Textile Museum that shows the local dress of many different Mayan groups, as well as demonstrating the art of weaving.
They also serve as a sales outlet for a large artisan’s cooperative. There are over 1000 artisans in the organization, and a lot of beautiful work is on display. It isn't just textiles. I thought the prices were reasonable.
Casa Santo Domingo is a modern hotel built amid the ruins of the 16th Century Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo. The old colonial buildings now house a number of museums:
Colonial art, Archaeology, Pharmacy, Contemporary art, Handicrafts, and my
favorite -- a special exhibit of old pottery paired with modern glass with the same theme. The art glass was from all over the world, and the pairings were well done. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in that room.
The entrance fee (40 quetzales) gets you on the grounds and into the museums.
Hours: 9-6 most days; 11:45-6 on Sundays
The Casa del Jade is in a reconstructed 16th Century house. There is a small Jade Museum on one side of the shop. All 58 pieces are replicas, but they are still very interesting to look at. The originals are 4,000 years old.
It is quite possible to look at the displays in the museum and then leave without buying. (I didn't do that, however.)
Part of the fun in visiting Antigua is the markets. There's areally good one called Carmen Market. There are so many wonderful things and for such a deal!! On Sunday . The market spreads out to the street and venders compete for your dollars.
We had a hard time with ATM's so we were pleased that some of the venders took VISA!! it's easier to barter with cash though.
When we tired of walking to and around the ruins we loved to take a break and sit on a bench in the Plaza Mayor just to people watch . There is always a hodgepog of passerbys crisscrossing the plaza. We saw hardworking women carrying their babies on there backs and good on their heads. There are venders with food stalls set up for the day, and old men having a coffee break and a chat.
Antigua is a great base for adventure sports. I used a local company to book my Pacaya Volcano hike and off-road mountain biking. Both activities were awesome experiences.
The company is Old Town Outfitters and I was pleased with their services. They have several adventure activities on offer for the beginner as well asfor the seasoned adventurer. Many are day activities; several are multi-day.
I found them to be competitively priced and reliable. The staff speaks fluent English (some are from the States) and are friendly and knowledgeable.
Drop by and pay them a visit if you need your fix of kayaking, biking, hiking, climbing or any other adventure activity.
If you only have time to see one ruin , make it this one. It's so beautiful. Crumbling walls , red orange and purple flwers cascade over ancient walls . The narrow pathways give a hint of the quiet way of life that was once lived here!
This convent was Antiguas largest and dates back to 1736 .It was destroyed by the massive earthquake in 1773.
AS we roamed in the evenings around Antigua to the markets or a restaurant we often stopped to here some local street musicians . They dress in colorful typical dress of the indigenous people. The group of young children in the pictures were there every evening working long hours with their Dad. For the few Q we gave them we were rewarded with the most beautiful smile!
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