Guatemala Travel Planner - (Page 6)

inGuat (4 ) ntigua is nown or its colonial churches and edifices. Wom Antigu a: A C o lo nial G em C eleb ratio ns antigua is a unE S C O World H eritage site. Anytime is a good time to visit Antigua, but travelers in town for oly eek before Easter will find that the town rolls out a multicolored carpet of flowers and sawdust for one of entral America s most celebrated religious festivals. There are processions each day, but alm Sunday and ood riday April and , respectively, in are the most important days. ookings are advised well in advance since hotels fill up months ahead. or those who miss Semana Santa, consider other traditional fiestas, such as the Feast D ay of Santiag o Saint ames , when Antigua goes all out around uly to honor her patron saint with costumed parades and marimba concerts. 6 The superstar of Guatemala’s colonial treasury is Antigua, founded by the Spanish in the 16th century (1543) and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city grew to become the economic, political and cultural capital of the Central American isthmus for some 200 years. In 1733 an earthquake damanged many of its churches, convents, colonnade government builds and private mansions, so Spain ordered the capital moved to Guatemala City. Historians and architecture buffs “rediscovered” it in the 1920s and in more recent years, a citywide restoration program has been put in place under the watchful eye of the National Council for the Protection of Antigua. In Antigua, visitors will find some of the finest examples of Spanish renaissance art and architecture in the Americas: cathedrals, convents, plazas, monasteries and residences from the 16th to 18th centuries. From its glory days—1543 to 1773—many former government buildings remain around the Plaza Mayor, such as the 16th century Palace of the Captains General, which was restored in 1764, and the Church of San Jose, popularly called La Catedral. Here, architecture aficionados will find the city’s prettiest church still in use is the bright-yellow baroque La Merced, with an ornate churrigueresque (Spanish baroque style) facade of lacy plasterwork, while the vast San Francisco Church, destroyed in 1773 and reconstructed in 1960, contains elaborate frescoes, paintings and statues. The Convent of the Capuchinas, dating from 1736, is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Other religious monuments, often buried in bougainvillea, are simply spectacular ruins: the Convent of Santa Clara is a roofless beauty, while La Recoleccion monastery is arguably the grandest of architectural shells. In Antigua, official market days—chaotic and colorful—are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays when the villagers from the vicinities roll in and spread their wares north and west of the main Antigua Market building. Mercado de Artesanias is another emporium whose tightly packed stalls display masses of craft. Visitors will find that lovely Antigua is a pleasant mixture of Maya Spanish colonial influences, part of the appeal that draws scores of international students studying at the Spanish-language schools. Here, too, lives much of Guatemala’s expatriate population, many of whom now occupy the city’s signature historic mansions, painted 5-12 Cities .indd 6 6/20/13 11:58 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Guatemala Travel Planner

Editor's Notes
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Tour Talk: DuVine Cycling Adventure
Expedition Cruising: Explore the Unexplored
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Latin America Specialist Courses
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
5 Ways to Adventure in North America
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Trinidad & Tobago
Soaring to New Heights in Saint Lucia

Guatemala Travel Planner