La Antigua Guatemala is arguably the most charming colonial town in Central America. Its shaded plazas are surrounded by pastel-hued mansions, quiet chapels and cobblestone streets. Its climate is cool and inviting. Antigua was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and today it serves as a model for architectural preservation efforts.
The city was founded in 1543 under an exhausting moniker—The Very Loyal and Very Noble City of Santiago del los Caballeros of Goathemala—and served as the capital of the Captaincy of Guatemala for over two centuries. After the devastating earthquake of 1763, the city was virtually abandoned and the capital relocated to Valle de la Ermita. At its peak, Antigua was the site of more than 40 historic churches and chapels, 18 convents and monasteries, and Central America's first university. Many of these structures still stand, while the ruins of others make for fascinating explorations.
Antigua is set in a lush highland valley at 4,900 feet above sea level. Three volcanoes surround the city: Agua (12,356 FASL) to the south, Acatenango (13,045 FASL) and Fuego (12,346 FASL) to the west. Fuego is an active stratovolcano; ash erupts regularly from its summit.
Visitors can enjoy privately-guided tours of the city's historic center; surrounding coffee plantations; and nearby villages specializing in handmade textiles, ceramics and jade jewelry. Horseback and mountain biking tours can be arranged, as can ascents of the Pacaya Volcano (90 minutes to the southeast). Cooking and language classes are also available.
Antigua has a fine collection of boutique hotels, most of which are housed in restored colonial mansions and convents. Excellent restaurants, galleries and museums are also found here. Because Antigua is located only 27 miles (approximately one hour) southwest of Guatemala City, visitors can stay in Antigua upon arrival at La Aurora International Airport.
The city's altitude keeps it cool year-round. Average daytime temperatures reach into the 80s, with overnight lows in the 50s. The best time to visit is from December to April, when sunny skies can be expected. The rainy season extends from May through September; late afternoon showers are common during these months.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Antigua and throughout Guatemala. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"Everyone is the age of their heart."