(Editor’s Note – This original post from January 2012 has been updated to reflect current Guatemala vacation details.)
Antigua Guatemala is surrounded by three breathtaking volcanoes including Agua, Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes, making Antigua a near perfect setting for Guatemala tours.
Antigua or “Antique” Guatemala is in close proximity to Guatemala City but is strikingly different. With an economy mainly driven by tourism, Antigua is a much calmer and quieter destination in Guatemala.
Thanks to Caravan’s Guatemala guided tours you can experience the history of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is seemingly unchanged today, nearly 300 years later.
Antigua Guatemala History
At its peak, Antigua was among the top three most important Spanish colonies in the Americas.
When Guatemala’s capital of Ciudad Vieja was destroyed by a volcano in 1541 the authorities decided to move the capital just five miles away in the Panchoy Valley – thus founding present day Antigua Guatemala.
Antigua served as the military governor of Spanish Colonial Guatemala (what many consider present day Central America and southern Mexico) for over two centuries. As a political hotspot, Antigua attracted nearly 3 dozen monastic orders to the area. Lavish monasteries, convents and cathedrals along with government buildings and stately homes were constructed in typical Mayan fashion.
Unfortunately, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1717 destroyed more than 3,000 Antiguan buildings. This devastation followed by the Santa Marta earthquakes in 1773 destroyed most of the town causing authorities to order that the capital city be moved to a safer location.
Present day Guatemala City in the Valley of the Shrine became the new capital and the much damaged Santiago de los Caballeros was ordered abandoned. Even though the city wasn’t completely abandoned, the civilization still became known as la Antigua Guatemala (the Old Guatemala).
Antigua Guatemala UNESCO Heritage Site
Although a good portion of Antigua was destroyed in the 1773 earthquake several major monuments remain today and are usually included in most Antigua Guatemala tours.
The Guatemalan government has chosen to preserve Antigua’s colonial architecture that includes religious, private and government buildings from the past by signing with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO).
The goal of UNESCO is to ensure the protection of the world’s natural and culture heritage sites, regardless of where they are located. This means that tourists from all over the world who book Antigua Guatemala tours can come and enjoy Antigua for years to come since the heritage site is protected from future development.
Antigua Guatemala Today
Thanks to the preservation as a UNESCO World Heritage site, for people who vacation in Antigua today it is like taking a step back in time. To many it seems that nothing has changed in over 300 years in this city. The cobblestone streets are lined by brilliantly colored single-story buildings and surrounded by tropical gardens, plazas and fountains.
Antigua Guatemala is one of the most popular destinations to study Spanish – there are over 75 schools that Spanish students can attend to perfect the language skills while staying in a city that is pivotal to Guatemala’s history.
Although Antigua plight through history has included natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires, the once capital of Guatemala remains a very popular tourist destination. During the two night stay in Antigua, Caravan’s Guatemala tour guests get to fully explore Antigua with an itinerary that includes:
- Walking tour of the Antigua’s Main Plaza
- Cathedral and Fountain of Sirens
- Las Capuchinas Convent and 18 circular living quarters
- Free time to explore Antigua and enjoy Porta Hotel
It should be noted that if one chooses to visit Antigua during Lent and Easter they will have the opportunity to experience the largest celebrations in all of the Western Hemisphere.
Caravan’s Porta Hotel Antigua
Caravan Tours is renowned for offering only the best accommodations on their all inclusive tours. The accommodations while in Antigua are no exception.
Porta Hotel Antigua has been noted as one of the Top 5 hotels in all of Central America. Antigua’s Porta Hotel is located only a couple blocks from the heart of Antigua’s Main Plaza, easily within walking distance for tourists to begin exploring the beautiful city of Antigua. Modern amenities such as solar heated swimming pools and a spa are available for tourists needing to relax in a quiet environment.
Antigua Is Part of Caravan’s All Inclusive Guatemala Tour
Enjoy a 2-night stay at the Porta Hotel in Antigua while on an all inclusive Guatemala Vacation offered by Caravan Tours.
To inquire about this 10-day all inclusive Guatemala Tikal Tour call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).
Visit Caravan’s Guatemala Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about this all inclusive tour of Guatemala.