Antigua is Guatemala’s crown jewel. It was founded in 1543 and served as the capital until it was razed by an earthquake in 1773. After that, the seat of government moved 45 minutes away to Guatemala City and Antigua was left to become a gorgeous little tourist’s paradise. Lonely Planet says it’s what Guatemala “would look like if the Scandinavians came in and took over for a couple of years.” The granola guidebook probably meant that to be a criticism, but I still love the town. (As I said, I’m a bad hippie.)
It’s nestled between three big volcanoes (Pacaya, Fuego and Agua), which contribute to its seismic instability, and is a lovely collection of paved cobblestone streets lined with brightly colored stucco houses.
The central plaza has some lovely churches and other colonial buildings. I explored them more fully the first time I visited, so we didn’t spend much time
My favorite element of Spanish architecture is the courtyard. You can’t see them from the street, but if you can get inside, they’re usually gorgeous. Private courtyards, of course, are off limits, but hotels are easier to get into.
In addition to courtyards, some of the hotels also have ruins. This hotel is built on the ruins of a Dominican monastery.
|The dearly departed|
|This cloister and fountain was my favorite area in the ruins|
|This flowering vine is amazing — it makes for awesome trellises|
Nestled among the ruins and hotel rooms was a little candleshop. Most of the candles were too much in the Spanish Catholic aesthetic for my taste, but the colors were lovely and it was neat to see the vats of boiling wax.
|Bistro burger with frites|