Location: On a Highland Valley, in the west of Guatemala City in Guatemala.
Best Time to Visit: November through March.
Preferred Timing: 09.30 a.m. to 04.00 p.m. (depending upon the places of visit)
How to Reach
The nearest airport is La Aurora International Airport (GUA), located 25 km away from La Antigua, and is just 6 km south of Guatemala City center. A number of flights from different destinations in the world come to this airport regularly.
From the airport, you can find regular shuttle vans to La Antigua until 8 p.m., which may cost around $10. You can also hire a charter tourist van to reach La Antigua which may cost around $30. The Chicken Bus is the cheapest most transportation to reach La Antigua from the airport which costs around $1 or Q7.
The Central American highways CA1 and CA9 run through the Guatemala City. So, if you are coming down by a car, you can take any one of those to reach Guatemala City. La Antigua is just 30 km away from Guatemala City. If you intend to come here by bus, you will find bus services to Guatemala City from almost all the towns in Guatemala.
Nearest airport: La Aurora International Airport (GUA)
Fried iguana, anyone! May not be exactly your idea of a great lunch, however, these are extremely popular in La Antigua, Guatemala, where the exotic and the colonial blend in a kind of seamless unity. When in La Antigua, one of the most colorful cities in Guatemala, head straight for the market. They are some of the most vibrant places on this beautiful island, and often the best place to get to know the local people and their way of life. When in Guatemala, do not act like a tourist, become a part of the island’s life. You will love it!
La Antigua Guatemala, more popularly known as ‘La Antigua’ or simply as ‘Antigua’ is usually well-known throughout the world for its immaculately preserved Spanish Mudíéjar-influenced Baroque architecture. The place has a number of amazing ruins of colonial churches. However, it is also known for its indigenous traditions and folklore. Once a colonial Spanish capital of Central America and currently a World Heritage site, La Antigua Guatemala is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Guatemala that attracts a huge number of tourists every year not only from various parts within the country but also from outside.
Located on a Highland Valley at a height of 1,500 meters, overlooking by the magnificent Agua Volcano (3.765 meters), Antigua has also a new neighboring towns and villages including Ciudad Vieja, Jocotenango, San Juan El Obispo, Santa María de Jesíºs, San Bartolomíé Milpas Altas and Santa Catalina Barahona, each of which is also worth a visit.
La Antigua Guatemala is also known for its traditions and folklore. Its rich crafts such as ceramics, wrought iron, carved colonial-style furniture, wooden sculptures, silver and jade jewelry, etc. are surely going to attract you. You cannot miss as well a great variety of traditional costumes, traditional toys, brass, Garcia, figured stone and may more.
Visiting La Antigua Guatemala
La Antigua has a lot to offer to its visitors. The touch of Spanish colonialism has made the city a truly special one. La Antigua is full of historic buildings, monuments, fountains, and ruins. The city showcases immaculately preserved Spanish Mudíéjar-influenced Baroque architecture to the whole world which is a treat to watch. To add with this, the ruins of colonial churches make this city a must see destination in whole South America.
Central Park or Parque Central is the heart of the city of Antigua. It consists of a few popular hopping-places for the tourists. The fountain of Central Park is a popular gathering spot in the city. The Arco de Santa Catalina, located off to the side of the Central Park, is one of the notable architectural brilliance of the city. The city is also known for a number of religious celebrations during the Lent (Cuaresma), that lead up to Holy Week (Semana Santa) and Easter.
The most popular tourist attractions in La Antigua include the Plaza Mayor, the Palace of the Captain Generals or Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales, the Colonial Museum, the Historic Book Museum, the Cathedral, Santiago Museum or Palacio del Ayuntamiento, the churches of La Merced and San Francisco, the ruins of Nuestra Seí±ora del Pilar, the ruins of Santa Clara, and the ruins of San Agustin.
Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales:
Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales or the Palace of the Captain Generals is one of the most amazing buildings of the city of La Antigua. This stone column building had to be reconstructed and altered several times for its damage due to various reasons including the earthquakes. Once the seat of Spanish colonial government and the residence of the Captain-General, Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales currently has got two-tiered arched faí§ade with 27 arcades on each level. Now a section of the palace has been converted into a museum and the building houses a number of offices like government offices, city police, and the Guatemala Tourist Institute.
Cas K’ojom is one of the most renowned museums in La Antigua that focuses on Mayan music, ceremonies, and related artifacts and handicrafts. Also, see here the samplings of musical instruments of the pre-colonial epoch and also those which were introduced by the Spanish.
Opening Hours: 09.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. / 02.00 p.m. to 05.00 p.m. (Monday through Friday)
09.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. / 02.00 p.m. to 05.00 p.m. (Monday through Saturday)
Casa Popenoe is a 17th-century colonial house that showcases the life of the Spanish colonial elite who once inhabited here. The house was restored during the 1930s by Dr. Wilson Popenoe when he furnished the house with period antiques, complete colonial kitchen, bath, and laundry areas. The interiors of the house also have paintings and flowered patios surrounded by shaded corridors.
Opening Hours: 02.00 p.m. to 04.00 p.m. (Monday through Saturday)
Universidad de San Carlos / Museo de Arte Colonial:
Universidad de San Carlos of the University of San Carlos, founded in 1676, had one of the most gorgeous buildings, which is now considered as one of the most beautiful examples of colonial architecture in La Antigua. The interior of the university has a fine courtyard surrounded by Moorish arches. The main building of the university houses the Museo de Arte Colonial or the Museum of Colonial Art. The museum is known for the Saint Francis series of paintings by colonial artist Cristóbal de Villapando. Some of the rooms have also been recreated.Opening Hours: 09.00 a.m. to 04.00 p.m. (Seven days a week)
Semana Santa or Holy Week is the Easter Week in La Antigua and is the most important celebration of Christ’s excruciation in the area. Here penitents with religious costumes make a procession to go through the streets of La Antigua. The streets are laid out with carpets of petals and brightly-dyed sawdust during this time. The procession starts and ends at the church of La Merced.
Cultural Walking Tours:
Cultural Walking Tours of Antigua tell you about the place, its people and its history. Everyone visiting La Antigua must go for Cultural Walking Tours of Antigua in order to know the place in a better manner. The tours, start from the fountain in Parque Central, are available in English and Spanish. Timings: 09.30 a.m. to 02.30 p.m. (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday)
02.00 p.m. to 05.00 p.m. (Monday and Thursday)
The city of La Antigua Guatemala is very compact and quite easy to walk around. As most of the tourist destinations are located within a distance of 1 km with each other, travelers can easily reach a point from another merely by walk within 15-20 minutes. Though while you walk, you may find the sidewalks quite narrow and often in bad conditions which may compel you to walk in the busy street.
It is better not to walk on the city streets after 11 p.m. if you do not know the city well. Taxis and Tuk-tuks are readily available to visit around places to places within the city. You can flag down a cruising Tuk-tuk or can take a taxi from the queue at Parque Central.
Related Links :
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=WAEKHmKvzcs: For an overview of the chief attractions of La Antigua, watch this video!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=lje5EtTNe2g: For a taste of the quaint and strikingly colonial flavor of La Antigua, watch this video! Find out the colorful events and the friendly people of the region as well!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=XgZkUgrl_Sk: For a look at some of the wonderful local culture of Guatemala in general, and La Antigua in particular, click on this link!