Antigua is one of the most beautiful colonial towns in the Americas. Formerly the capital of Guatemala (1542-1776), the town is nestled in a fertile valley between three volcanoes; some of which can be climbed. Its narrow, cobbled streets and low-rise buildings give the town a timeless character, enhanced by the Spanish facades, patios and arcades that line the streets.
Founded in the sixteenth century and Guatemala’s capital until 1776, Antigua is a cosmopolitan destination with a rich colonial past. Its long cobblestone streets are lined with pretty, pastel-hued houses, luxe boutique hotels, and an exceptional selection of smart shops, galleries, and mouth-watering restaurants —whether you prefer fine dining or street eats, there’s no going hungry in Antigua.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, this city of approximately 35,000 sits in a fertile valley surrounded by small-scale coffee farms, indigenous villages, and three imposing volcanoes. At the heart of town is the parque central, a European-style plaza that attracts everyone from families to shoe-shiners to ice cream vendors; most congregate around the park’s main feature, a fountain with four artfully sculpted bare-chested mermaids.
At its architectural peak, Antigua was home to dozens of colonial monuments, churches, and monasteries, but a massive earthquake in 1773 damaged or reduced most to rubble. In the centuries thereafter, efforts were made to rebuild and restore, and the city now comprises a gorgeously melancholy mix of relics and ruins.