Antigua Travel Guide
Antigua Local History
This city is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the Americas; it is in fact over 450 years old and served as the capital till 1776 when it transferred to Guatemala City. It was declared a notional monument in 1944 and a World Heritage Site in 1979 by Unesco.
Most of the buildings have a typical 17th and 18th century Spanish architecture with a Catholic Church type feeling. There are a few ruins and colonial buildings which remain and have been opened to the public for viewing.
Arches of Santa Catarina - The Arco de Santa Catarina is a very famous landmark, which was built in 1694, and is one of the few structures in town that withstood the 1773 quake. It is almost impossible to miss these structures while in Antigua as they are in a very popular part of town. On some occasions there are live music shows under the arches at night. (5a Avenida Norte between la and 2a Calles)
La Merced - The Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora de La Merced is probably Antigua's most stunning colonial style church. Construction began in 1548, soon after the town was founded, with improvements being carried out thought out the cities history. After being destroyed in the 1773 quake repairs were made to the church from 1850 to 1855. Inside the ruins is a fountain 27m in diameter which is said to be the largest in Central America.
Pacaya volcano - Fancy a trip up one of Guatemala's volcanoes? Trips can be booked anywhere in Antigua with most of the tour operators asking a similar price. You get collected at your hotel, driven 2 hours by 4x4 to the starting point, and then you have to hike about 770 meters. Just before the beautiful sunset you will reach the summit and then the descend will be down in the dark evening. Don't worry about safety though; you are always escorted by two uniformed guards.
Ixchel The city of Antigua is known for its many great language schools where you can learn among other things Spanish. At this particular one the prices are very competitive and the instruction excellent. Mayan culture information is displayed throughout the school to stimulate your imagination about the people's past, present, and future. (Tel: 502 832 7137) (3a. Avenida Sur No. 6, Casa de los Nahuales)
The Bagel Factory The Bagel Factory is restaurant located at 4 Calle Orinete No. 8 local A-B. I couldn´t believe ther could be such great bagels in Guatemala. Also they have a great variety of coffees, sandwiches, salads and great smoothies. Most of all they complement their menu with a bakery and a great price!!!!!!!!!!! What a discovery!!!!
submitted by Diego Vadillo, 08/06/05
Probably one of the main reasons that people come to the city of Antigua is for the great local shopping experience. Be on the lookout for the local souvenir women, which sell all kinds of arts and crafts like beautiful colored blankets, wooden bracelets, coconut rings, and tiny puppets. And they carry it all around on their heads just like in Africa.
Another place for good shopping is Parque Central where on Sunday the plaza is lined with villagers selling handicrafts to tourists and at night mariachi or marimba bands play in the park.
Antigua Restaurants and Bars
Personajes This restaurant with bar seems to be one of the more popular smaller stops in Antigua. Enjoy the overly friendly service while dining on the patio garden deck. The food and drinks menu has a large variation. The music is great and they show video clips with music from the 70´s & 80´s. (6a. Avenida Norte # 6) (Tel: 502 832-3758)
Dona Luisa If you've woken up early and are looking to go out for breakfast or a light lunch, head over to Dona Luisa. While you sit in the lovely, shaded courtyard, you can enjoy some of the biggest omelets you have ever seen in your life.
Casa Santo Domingo - The Casa Santo Domingo has one of the best restaurants in Antigua, here you can enjoy a candlelit meal with a loved one in romantic surroundings. In particular give the juicy steaks a try.
The Bagel Barn Another great place for light meals in the Bagel Barn. Delicious fresh varied bagels with a variety of cream cheeses and fruit licuados can be bought here. It also shows free nightly movies, which is great on Sunday when after 8:30 there is no alcohol served anywhere in town. (5a Ave west of the park)
Looking for organised tours in Antigua?
Useful Antigua Links
BBC Antigua Holiday Page
Useful info on Antigua, travel facts etc.
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