Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Antigua Guatemala: A Little Bit of History

Photos in this page by galasdeguatemala.com, used with authorization.
Antigua Guatemala, patrimony of the human kind, as declared by Unesco in 1979, was founded in 1543 with the name of Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala (City of Saint James of the Knights of Goathemala) as the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which included the Meso America Region: Chiapas, Soconusco, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It has become world famous, among other things, for its well-preserved Spanish Mudejar-influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches.
Antigua Guatemala is today the capital of the Department of Sacatepequez and is only 45 kilometers away from Guatemala City. It is located in a beautiful and fertile valley surrounded by three volcanoes: Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego, being the first one, one of the most iconic landmarks in and around Antigua Guatemala, which dominates the landscape.
In a quick sightseeing tour throughout Antigua Guatemala, I would say that among the most visited places starting from the Central Park and its four flanks, which is not just the Ground 0 of the city but also a very good spot to observe, to interact with locals and visitors alike, to slow the pace, and take a deep breath, are:
The Cathedral, which is in constant restoration to preserve the beautiful colonial details.
The Captains' Palace, which for a couple of centuries was the official palace of the governors designated by the Kings of Spain.
The Palace of the Noble Town Council, which after the colonial times was transformed into a jail and now houses the Antique Books Museum, the Santiago Museum, and the City Hall.
The Bakers Passageway (Portal de las Panaderas), where we will find a wide variety of commercial places, from a bank branch, bookstores, small cafes, to street vendors.
Well my travel companions, I think that after this introduction to Antigua Guatemala and before continuing our journey, it is time to make a stop and enjoy one of the many Antigua delicacies. Let me tell you, the restaurants offer is wide enough to make the decision of where to go for lunch a difficult task. I love Guatemalan traditional food, and since we are visiting downtown Antigua, I would choose La Fonda de la Calle Real,  a traditional place where the main decorations are old food-related sayings written on the walls and the food is so good, that even in the travel section of the New York Times is easy to find reviews. I started thinking on the menu and my mouth is watering!
Photo from the FB Fans' Page of La Fonda de la Calle Real

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