Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Around the Historic Center

Photos in this page by galasdeguatemala.com, used with authorization.
In Guatemala City, the downtown surroundings is probably the less explored area by tourists and that is why I would like to introduce you some places, true landmarks within the city limits.
To enjoy the most while traveling, especially when visiting big cities such as Guatemala, your best defense is to use common sense. Don't walk the streets at night. Avoid alleyways and areas where there are no other people around. Don't wear jewelry, use a money belt, and don't let all the dire warnings keep you from experiencing this fascinating city.
The Metropolitan Cultural Center, originally built between 1937-1940 to house the National Post Office, is today the house of several art schools, including music, sculpture, and painting among others. The main feature of this building is the arch, which was inspired by the much older and more famous Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua Guatemala, a place we will visit soon in this journey.
Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve) at the Minerva Park. This 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet), 1:1000 scale relief map of Guatemala, a unique engineering masterpiece created in 1904-1905 by Francisco Vela, shows Guatemala's topography in detail complete with rivers, lakes and oceans and is viewed from platforms located on each side. Nearby is a small forest of hormigo trees, the wood of which is used to make marimbas (an ancient like-xylophone musical instrument). The trees were planted to commemorate the marimba tradition in Guatemala.
Del Carmen Hill (Cerro del Carmen) is a beautiful place from which to take in the view of Guatemala City below. At the hilltop is a Carmelite hermitage, which was left close to ruins by the 1976 earthquake and is now restored and open to the public again. The church is the first one built in the valley and possess a beautiful silver embossed image of the Virgin of Carmen that dates back to the early 1600s. 

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