Guatemala is a country with a rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural landscapes. There are tons of fascinating cities to visit here but one of my personal favourites is Antigua Guatemala.
Antigua Guatemala is a charming colonial town nestled in the central highlands of the country. It was the capital of Guatemala until a series of earthquakes in the 18th century. The city has since been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover the colonial-era churches, monasteries, and plazas as you explore the tropical island of Antigua. Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts and crafts scene by visiting local markets and workshops. Of course, Antigua offers more than history and culture as it lets you explore nearby volcanoes, hike through rainforests, and discover Lake Atitlan’s beauty. Here are some of my favourite spots in the city!
Santa Catalina Arch
During my visit to Antigua, I had the opportunity to see the Santa Catalina Arch up close. It was fascinating to learn about the history behind the arch, which was built in the 17th century as a passage for nuns to cross between two buildings. The bright yellow colour and intricate design of the arch were striking, and it made for a perfect photo opportunity. The arch is also located in a vibrant area of Antigua, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes to explore.
La Merced Church of Antigua
The La Merced Church is a stunning example of colonial architecture. The intricate details on the facade of the church were awe-inspiring and the interior was just as impressive with ornate altars and religious artefacts. The church is also known for its striking yellow colour, which is a result of the sulfur that was used to build it. I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the church to learn more about its history and cultural significance.
Nim Po’t Centro de Textiles Tradicionales
During my tour of Antigua, I was able to explore the Nim Po’t Centro de Textiles Tradicionales. This cultural centre showcases the traditional textiles of Guatemala and is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s rich cultural heritage. The centre features a wide selection of textiles, including colourful huipils, woven blankets, and intricate embroidery. I was particularly impressed by the demonstrations of backstrap weaving, which is a traditional technique used by indigenous women in Guatemala. The centre also offers workshops and classes for those interested in learning more about the art of traditional textile-making.
The Jade Museum in Antigua Guatemala is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region. The museum features an impressive collection of jade artefacts, which were highly valued by the Maya civilization. The exhibits showcase the intricate designs and symbolism of the jade pieces, which include jewellery, masks, and figurines. I was particularly fascinated by the explanations of the different colours and types of jade and the cultural significance they held for the Maya people. The museum also offers workshops for visitors interested in learning how to carve jade themselves.
Hiking up Pacaya Volcano was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my tour of Antigua Guatemala. The trail was challenging but the stunning views of the surrounding landscape made it all worth the effort. As we approached the summit, we could feel the heat coming from the molten lava. Watching the lava up close was an unforgettable experience and our guide was knowledgeable and provided insights into the geology and history of the area.
It’s a few hours away but the trip is rewarding. The stunning natural beauty of Lake Atitlan was spectacular, with crystal clear waters surrounded by towering volcanoes and lush green hills. I took a boat ride around the lake and visited some of the small towns and villages that dot the shoreline. Each town had its unique culture and traditions, and the people were friendly and welcoming. I highly recommend visiting Lake Atitlan to anyone looking for a peaceful and relaxing natural retreat.
Hobbitenango was one of the most unique natural attractions I explored during my tour of Antigua Guatemala. The eco-tourism park is designed to look like a hobbit village, with houses built into the side of a hill. The views from the park were spectacular, with green valleys and rolling hills stretching out into the distance. I enjoyed exploring the hobbit houses and the surrounding gardens and even got to try my hand at ziplining. Overall, Hobbitenango was a fun and whimsical natural attraction that is perfect for families and nature lovers alike.
Convento de las Capuchinas
Visiting Convento de las Capuchinas in Antigua Guatemala was a fascinating historical experience. The convent is a beautifully preserved example of 18th-century architecture and it offers insights into the daily life of the nuns who once lived there. I enjoyed exploring the various rooms and spaces, including the chapel, kitchen, and living quarters. The ornate carvings and intricate details of the architecture were truly impressive, and it was fascinating to learn about the history of the convent and the role it played in the cultural and religious life of the region.
Antigua Guatemala Central Park
Central Park in Antigua Guatemala is a vibrant and lively hub of activity in the heart of the city. The park is surrounded by beautiful colonial-era buildings and is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. I enjoyed strolling through the park, taking in the sights and sounds of street vendors, musicians, and performers. The park is also a great place to relax and people watch, with plenty of benches and shade trees.
Antigua Guatemala is a destination that is simply too captivating to miss out on, particularly for those with a keen interest in history, culture, nature, and adventure. This city’s vast array of incredible natural landscapes, including breathtaking volcanoes, luscious rainforests, and cascading waterfalls, make it the perfect destination for nature lovers. The city is truly a destination that is unmatched in its ability to capture the essence of Central America and provide an unforgettable experience for those who are looking for a truly authentic cultural and natural experience.