Antigua Guatemala

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Antigua Guatemala
Coordinates: 14 ° 33 ′  N , 90 ° 44 ′  W
Map: Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala on the map of Guatemala
Basic data
Country Guatemala
Department Sacatepéquez
City foundation 1543
Residents 34,685  (2007)
City insignia
Bandera de Sacatepéquez.svg
Escudo de armas de Sacatepéquez.svg
Detailed data
Time zone UTC −6
La Merced Church, the Agua volcano in the background
La Merced Church , the Agua volcano in the background
Former San José Cathedral of Antigua
Former San José Cathedral of Antigua
San Pedro de las Huertas Church
San Pedro de las Huertas Church

La Antigua Guatemala (Ger. "Old Guatemala", short form Antigua ) is a small town with about 35,000 inhabitants in the central highlands of Guatemala . It was the capital of the Spanish colonies in Central America from 1543 to 1773 . Today Antigua Guatemala is the administrative seat of the large municipality of the same name ( Municipio ) and the Department of Sacatepéquez .

Known for its baroque colonial architecture , the city has been a World Heritage Site since 1979 .


The city lies at the foot of the Agua volcano in the Panchoy Valley. Only about 30 kilometers from the capital Guatemala City. Antigua is located in the central highlands of Guatemala and is surrounded by three volcanoes. These are the Agua , Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes . The latter is still active, which is why small outbreaks can be observed throughout the day.

City structure

City life takes place in a small area. The city center is the Parque Central, which is typical of a colonial Spanish city. Once used as a venue for festive occasions and bullfights, today street vendors with typical Guatemalan souvenirs walk around between tourists and locals. Parque Central is surrounded by many cafes and American fast food chains.


In the course of the conquest of Guatemala by Pedro de Alvarado , the Spaniards established a first capital in Tecpán Guatemala near Iximché ( Chimaltenango ) on July 25, 1524 . On November 22, 1527 it was moved to Santiago de Goathemala, six kilometers southwest of Antigua Guatemala, today's Ciudad Vieja (German: "Old City"). In the autumn of 1541, a mudslide buried the place and several hundred people died. On March 10, 1543, Bishop Francisco Marroquín founded the third capital in the nearby Panchoy Valley, which was given the name La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala (today Antigua Guatemala ) by King Philip II in 1566 . Since 1549 the city was the seat of the Real Audiencia of Guatemala .

In the following 200 years, the city developed into the political, economic and cultural center of Central America , which was in no way inferior to Mexico City or Lima . Earthquakes caused severe damage several times over the years, but the negative effects on urban development were short-lived. In the middle of the 18th century, Antigua had more than 50,000 inhabitants, over 50 churches and chapels, hospitals, schools, a printing press and also a university from which today's Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala emerged . This city was completely destroyed by a severe earthquake on June 29, 1773. Initially, it was planned to move the capital to Jalapa , about 150 km to the east , then it was decided to move to the Ermita plateau, only 45 km away, where Guatemala City is now.

Antigua Guatemala was never abandoned as a city, but it has been slow to recover. Since 1871, the secularization of church property and the liberal reforms of the Barrios government enabled domestic and foreign investment and the establishment of a coffee- based export economy.

The colonial city was declared a national monument of Guatemala in 1944 , in 1965 it was recognized as a cultural heritage of North America and since 1979, according to a UNESCO resolution , Antigua has been a world heritage site .

In 1976, another earthquake in Antigua, as in other cities in Guatemala, again caused severe damage. Numerous ruins are still a reminder of the various natural disasters that have struck the city over time.

regional customs

Corpus Christi carpet made of colored sawdust shavings in front of the altar in the cathedral in Antigua

During Lent, “carpets” are made from colored sawdust shavings that, decorated with fruits and flowers, cover large areas in some of the cathedral's side chapels. Easter week is the most important event of the year. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the country, especially in Antigua. It reaches its climax in Holy Week, when these carpets cover the floor of entire streets on the way to the cathedral.


"Tower of seclusion": 18 small cells are arranged around a circular patio

Antigua is now one of the main tourist attractions in Guatemala. The city has a regular colonial cityscape with numerous half-destroyed baroque churches and has numerous hotels, restaurants, shops and language schools. A cultural highlight in Antigua Guatemala are the magnificent processions in Holy Week ( Semana Santa ). Another attraction are the volcanoes Agua , Acatenango and the still active Fuego . The tomb of the chronicler and former governor of Antigua Bernal Díaz del Castillo is located in the rear of the former San José Cathedral . To the side of the cathedral are the well-preserved buildings of the former University of San Carlos, founded in 1676 .

One of the most interesting sights is the Capuchin Convent of Antigua (Convento de las Capuchinas) on the corner of Av Norte and Calle Oriente because of the unique "Tower of Seclusion" (Torre de Retiro). Around a circular patio are 18 small cells with their own toilet, which were inhabited by nuns from a branch of the Franciscan order with very strict rules.

Town twinning



Web links

Commons : Antigua Guatemala  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Antigua Guatemala  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Entry on the website of the UNESCO World Heritage Center ( English and French ).