Sitting beautifully between three volcanoes: Acatenango, Fuego, and Agua, Antigua is more than just a fabled colonial, cobblestoned street filled with delicious restaurants, luxury hotels, colorful homes, and popular Spanish Schools. It still preserves the same majesty it did when it was the epicenter of Central America’s power during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Churches and monasteries of all shapes sizes and the remainders (ruins) of the old capital, which was destroyed by the great earthquake on July 29, 1773, are woven into each historical step on each street.
Keep reading to learn all about all that Antigua Guatemala has to offer.
Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala
There are tons of things to do in Antigua these are only 20 of the things I could think of right now.
- Churches, Cathedrals, Monasteries, Convents, and Ruins
- Central Park (Parque Central)
- Hiking / Volcano Tours
- Museums, Monuments, and Landmarks
- Shop at the local Mayan markets
- Book classes at Spanish schools
- Semana Santa (Holy Week)
- Coffee Plantation Tour
- Canopy / Zipline tours
- Mountain bike tours
- Visit the only winery in Central America
- Taste local artisanal beer
- Enjoy a chocolate tour where you get to prepare it from scratch and learn how it was used before Europeans took it home and made it commercial.
- Taste fruit wine in San Juan del Obispo
- Buy leather items from artisans in Pastores
- Visit a macadamia farm in Dueñas
- Visit a poinsettia plantation also in Dueñas (November and December)
- Eat with stunning views at Hobbitenango, Eathlodge, or Cerro San Cristobal
- Try the traditional atol de elote and tostadas on a street food stand
- Go on a Jade tour
History of the City
La muy Noble y muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala (Antigua) was founded on March 10, 1543. This was actually the Spaniards third try at making a capital city in this newly founded territory. The first one was Iximche (1524) near the Mayan tribe Kaqchiquel until they rebelled. So it was moved to Ciudad Vieja (1527), until it got caught under a mudslide and the whole city disappeared.
During its peak, 17th and 18th century, Antigua had an astounding 38 churches plus a cathedral, a university, printing press, and newspaper, schools, hospitals, and an upper-class society of politicians and clergy. In 1773 came the great earthquake destroying most of the Capital and it was finally evacuated and moved to Guatemala City in 1776 completely. After that Antigua was almost forgotten except for the plundering and stealing of building materials and a small community that got left behind.
This community started to thrive and around 1830 began to put effort into Antigua’s renovation and revival. However, it wasn’t until 1944 that President Jorge Ubico declared Antigua a national monument that the city really prospered and became what it is today.
Did You Know?
- It was declared in 1979 by Unesco as a World Heritage site.
- There is an independent council making sure that every renovation or new building follows the architectural rules of colonial times to ensure that its looks is kept.
- The best time to explore it is mid-week. On weekends people from all over the country flood it creating crowds, chaos, and tons of traffic jams.
Other Nearby Towns:
- Ciudad Vieja
- San Antonio Aguas Calientes
- San Juan Comalapa
- San Juan del Obispo
- San Miguel Dueñas
Did I miss any cool things to do in Antigua? Let me know in the comments.
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