Antigua, Guatemala


Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala, and held that honor for more than 200 years. And since the city is nearly 500 years old, the name Antigua (which means ancient) seems fitting. The city was once filled with grandiose churches and other colonial structures. But in 1717 an enormous earthquake destroyed most of the city and in 1773 another quake damaged what was left. I stop by the ruins of the El Carmen church to see what is left of this once magnificent edifice.
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Central Park is the heart of the city today. And it’s busy with shoppers, diners and people. The Cathedral of San Jose is here.
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A few blocks away is the Arco de Santa Catalina, a landmark for this city. And it frames the Volcan de Agua if you stand on the northern side of the arch.
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Typical of almost all Spanish settlements, cities here are often filled with beautiful churches. Antigua has its share. The Merced on the northern edge of the old city is a lovely way to start a morning walk.
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But I appreciate the average buildings too…the abandoned ones, the weathered ones, and the “lived in” ones.
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I wander over to the large open market on the west end of town and the Artisan Market next door to that. Guatemala and Antigua are famous for the beautiful colorful textiles you can find here.
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The city is known for its plethora of activities for tourists and hotels and restaurants reflect a global vibe. There are a few Spanish schools here too and its a popular place for people to come to brush up on their Spanish.

It seems to be a biker crossroads too as it turns out. While we are in town we catch up with a rider from the UK, Pete, and mete a new couple, Matt and Pamela, who are headed south too. So in between cocktail hours in the evenings, I shop, send a couple of boxes home, and wander by some more beautiful churches.
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