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Cid's Guatemala Summer 2011 - 2 months of Spanish and Travel in Guatemala and Honduras
Domingo en Antigua

 I have been to Antigua 4 times in the past, but every time I turn a corner I learn or see something new. Antigua, formerly known as “Muy Leal y Muy Noble Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala," was the second capital under the jurisdiction of the larger Viceroyalty of New Spain, and was established on March 10, 1543. I was here for this anniversary celebration last year, great marimba music, played on an instrument invented in Guatemala, the marimba. Shortly after being established the earthquakes and destruction began, 1563, 1717, and then the big one in 1773 lasting almost a year with a series of quakes, Terremotos de Santa Marta. This was too much and the capital was moved to present day Guatemala City which has also experienced it’s own problems with terremotos. Squatters took over the ruins until the mid-19th century. The city was declared a national monument in 1944 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. There are still many ruinas to explore, which I did on Sunday. The adventure for Sunday was to be un partido de futbol en el local estadio, pero, it did not happen, there was no football game, muy triste. Entonces, I decided to see some of the sights I have only read about.

I watched these guys awhile to replace my futbol game.

La Merced, one of Antigua’s most beautiful churches is painted bright yellow and adorned with white lily motifs on its columns. I sat through about 40 minutes of a service, admiring the architecture and thinking about the power of religion, and particular the Catholic Church, in people’s lives. In the attached ruins of an old monastery is a huge, beautiful fountain (that could use some love).

La Arch de Santa Catalina is the major symbol of Antigua. It was built to provide a hidden passageway for the cloistered nuns. It has held up during all of the earthquakes. The calle running under this arch is closed to traffic and 2 more blocks are closed off on the weekends for strolling and shopping. 

 Ella vende las collars

Catedral de Santiago is on the eastern side of Parque Central. It went up and came down with earthquakes many times. Up 1545, down 1583, up 1670 taking 11 years to build, this structure was huge! 18 chapels, a huge dome, 5 naves, and a central chamber measuring 90 meters by 20 meters, covered in artwork by renowned European and colonial artists; its altar was inlaid with silver, ivory and mother-of pearl. It held up for the 1689 and 1717 terremotos but crashed in 1773. In the crypt below the chapel is the Sculpted black Christ similar to the highly revered statue found in Esquipulas, along with some famous dead dudes. These ruins brought to mind the book I read last year, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.


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