While Parque Central is the undisputed hub of the city, Parque Union, lying a few blocks to the south-east, is also worth a visit. This is much more of a locals’ hang out than tourists’, although plenty of the latter come here to visit nearby churches - San Pedro and ruined Santa Clara. The square itself though deserves a little of your time. At the eastern end is a large public laundry, still used by local women in the early mornings and late afternoons. (see my Guatemala Local Customs tips for more about public laundries and their use here). In the centre of the square is a cross dedicated to St. James, aka Santiago, a gift to the people of Antigua from its sister city in Spain, Santiago de Compostela.
This is also a good spot for photos. On the north side especially are some characterful buildings that make a good backdrop for people shots, and in the square itself local women sell fruit and snacks, but the atmosphere is less commercial and more relaxed than in the Parque Central.
The architecture of Antigua is simply incredible. It is heavily influenced by the Spanish colonial era, when Spain controlled the area. The cathedrals and churches are prime examples of the flourishes of this time period. The city is vibrant in its variety and color, even garage doors are painted a variety of colors. Walking around is a feast for the eyes even in an empty street.
Truly, the most pleasurable activity in Antigua is walking and admiring the way the dramatic light plays on the pastel colored facades. You can find some very quiet streets with no boutiques and no tourists.
I'm adding only one photo to this tip, and putting the rest in a travelogue below.
ANTIGUA IS A VERY PLEASANT LITTLE TOWN FULL OF COLONIAL BUILDINGS AND COBBLESTONE STREETS. THOUGH THE BUILDINGS LOOK OLD FROM THE OUTSIDE MANY OF THEM ARE MODERN ON THE INSIDE.
THERE ARE VIEWS OF THE AGUA, ACATENANGO, AND FUEGO VOLCANOES IN THE AREA. ALSO BE SURE TO GO TO CERRO DE LA CRUZ, A HILLSIDE WITH A BIG CROSS ON IT. FOR A SPECTACULAR VIEW OF THE TOWN AND LANDSCAPE.
During Holy week the devoted Catholics of Guatemala celebrate with a series of processions....a must see!!!! The town fills up with people from all over. There are processsions throughout the day and into the night on Thursday and Friday of holy week. Different church groups march through the streets carrying images of Jesus and Mary. The last procession on Friday is the most spectacular.
Stop into the lush courtyard of the Posada Don Rodrigo to listen to the marimba band while you have lunch or just a limonada. It's hard to keep from dancing although they probably wouldn't mind if you did.
When you arrive to Antigua it is a beautiful cobblestone city near a hurge volcano.. The views are just beautiful..All I recommend is just to walk around and just enjoy.. That is all I did.. Had great food, great beer, great coffee.. everything great..
If you go to Antigua, don't pass up the chance to take a stroll through the city and take in the lovely architecture. They say it's one of the most well-planned colonial cities in the Americas (in fact, I think I read somewhere that it was the first planned city in the Americas). I can see how that is true. The city is overwhelminly linear and consists completely of streets running north-south and east-west. They have a huge volcano directly to the south, and a high hill with a cross overlooking the city to the north. It's impossible to get lost!
Its nice and safe to walk around Antigua by night, sometimes during the week-ends the city is crowded, full of people from Guatemala city, its better to explore the city during the week days.
When walking through Antigua, and you do LOTS of that, be sure and look in every door and behind every wall. Most of the city is hidden from view and you never know what you will find.
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