Friday, November 13, 2009

First Day in Guatemala

We arrived in Gautemala on Monday afternoon. Uneventful flights. TACA airline service was flawless. They are flying brand new Airbus 319s. We arrived at the hotel after dark. We were greeted by Elizabeth Bell, the owner of the travel service, to make sure check-in went smoothly. It is a house converted into a 5 room hotel. Very nice staff but not much English spoken except for Elizabeth. Here is our room.

Click to enlarge.

Bright and early on Tuesday morning we met Elizabeth and half a dozen other tourists for a 3 hour walking tour of Antigua. A bit of history - Antigua was the third seat of government for the Spanish colonial govenrment in the New World. All of their territory from southern Mexico through most of Central America was governed from here.

The city was founded in 1543. The city was abandoned after an earthqualke in 1773 destroyed much of the city. Consequently not much changed for the next couple of centuries. Much of the original architecture that survived the earthquake remains. It is now a World Heritage site. This is City Hall Palace and the previous picture was the Palace of the Captains General. Both shots are from the plaza in front of the Cathedral below.

This is the main church on the square in the center of the city. It is built in front of the ruins of the original much larger cathedral which was destroyed in 1717.

Here is a shot from inside the church.

Here is a statue of Christ inside the church. It is taken out for processions during Holy Week. It is over 200 years old.

Here is a shot of the ruins of the original Cathedral.

Here is a street scene around town. Cobblestone streets. That is Agua volcano in the background south of town. The 2nd seat of government of the spanish colonies was at the foot of the volcano. It was destroyed by a landslide in 1541 after 17 years of use. After the landslide the capital was moved a few miles to the city of Antigua.

Later we toured the museum and grounds at the Casa Santo Domingo. This is a huge 5 star hotel just a couple of blocks from our hotel. Here are couple of shots from the museum and a few shots from around the grounds.

The skys cleared in the afternoon. This picture is from the front garden of the house were we are staying. The ruin across the street is Concepcion church.

An interesting door I thought. The origianl city is laid in square blocks. Each block contained 4 homes - estates really - with a home, garden and perhaps livestock. Over the years they have been subdivided many times.

Here is a picture of the main square.

This is the fountain in the center of the square. Check out the fountain closely. Seems a little incongruous with the conservative nature of the society.

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