Antigua is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in Central America, and with good reason. It is a beautiful place which celebrates rich cultural traditions and boasts a perfect climate (that is, of course, if one enjoys 70- and 80-degree temperatures with tropical air). The name “Antigua,” the Spanish for “old,” is fitting for a city which seems to have been designed around the ruins and ancient buildings it hosts. Travelers can experience a modern-day touristic experience while walking amidst the ghosts of past culture.
During our trip to Guatemala, we felt we got the “real” Antigua experience in an ancient church, most of which had been toppled by an earthquake. Almost half of the church seemed to be on the ground; but all around us laid giant boulders and cornerstones, and we wandered in and out of shadows cast by enormous surviving pillars. One part which remained intact was the catacombs which ran under the church.
It was low enough that I had to duck to get under the entrance, and my mild claustrophobia started to kick into gear the deeper I walked under the church. The dramatic temperature change was as obvious as the feeling of history and antiquity which permeated the church. The church and its spooky catacombs was one of many locations which allow travelers to interact with history.
Old or new, natural or man-made, Antigua’s scenery is beautiful. The streets are wide and covered in stones. Wrought-iron bars cover the windows, and house bright, beautiful flowers on almost every street. The stone buildings are often either stained by rust or chipped and cracked, but because of their antiquity they are no less beautiful for it.
Near the center of the town sprawls a beautiful park with dense foliage. The park’s paths shoot off at different angles; during our visit, it was full of people strolling through the beautiful morning air. We found a small restaurant in an octagonal building inside the park; its raised patios on all sides provided a great view of the area, and we had what I recall to be an excellent breakfast.
There is a concerted effort to maintain cultural traditions,
and many of the people in the streets and in the markets wore traditional
clothes—brightly-colored shirts and dresses. The enormous market on the
outskirts of town is massive, and displays many artisanal wares representative
of the culture’s history. Whether it be arts, culture, history, or simply
tropical scenery, tourists can find any of it in this beautiful little city.
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