Antigua Guatemala founded as Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala in 1527, is known as the “City of the Perpetual Roses”. This city, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, was once the most important seat of Spanish colonial government, it was demolished by and earthquake in 1773 and nowadays is among the best preserved examples of Spanish colonial architecture found in Latin America.
The city preserves buildings and numerous ruins of religious structures from the 16th century that you can easily visit on foot through cobblestone streets. Antigua Guatemala is a magic small town with beatiful sorroundings, flowers adorning colorful buildings and a perpetual sentinel, the majestic Hunapú “Agua Volcano”.
Tikal is the largest city of the ancient Maya civilization’s Classic period. Tikal is located deep in the heart of Guatemala’s El Petén rainforest, in the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation. The ancient city site is one of the largest ancient Maya sites, and today exists as a 222 square mile protected national park that is sanctuary not only for archaeological monuments, but also for wildlife such as monkeys, toucans, parrots, and the elusive jaguar among many more creatures. Tikal National Park features a set of striking archaeological sites and a complex habitat of wetlands, lowland and highland forests, which have been well conserved. The park is one of few protected areas in Guatemala to have received the full support of authorities for its conservation. In 1979, Tikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tikal contains thousands of archaeological sites of which only a small portion have been excavated. To date 3000 have been uncovered and some 10,000 remain to be explored. The ceremonial center contains superb temples and palaces, and public squares accessed by means of ramps. In contrast to Egyptian pyramids, to which they are often compared, Maya ‘step pyramids’ served numerous functions besides mortuary ones, and were constructed not from large, solid stone blocks but from smaller, cut stone blocks on top of a rubble-fill core.
Lake Atitlan & Panajachel is located in the Guatemalan highlands and provides incredible views to three volcanoes and the Lake Atitlan, one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. The volcanoes, San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan set an incredible stage for this town. Panajachel is also the gateway to explore several indigenous villages around Lake Atitlan. Santiago Atitlan, San Pedro, Santa Catarina Palopó and San Antonio Palopó, all are famous for its women weavers and their typical clothes.
Formed by a collapsed volcano cone, Lake Atitlan is recognized to be the deeptest lake in Central America, its bottom has not been completely sounded. Estimates of its maximum depth range un to 340 meters. Approximately fifteen towns or villages lie on the perimeter, mainly inhabited by traditional Mayan peoples with a sprinkling of foreign settlers.
Chichicastenango one of the largest trading centers in the Mayan world, is well known for its famous market days, where vendors offer handicrafts, textiles, embroidered cloth, flowers, pottery, leather goods and the famous Chichicastenango carved masks; used in traditional dances, such as the “Dance of the Conquest”.
Within the main plaza there are two churches, which face each other, the most important one is Santo Tomas. The church of Santo Tomas is more than 400 years old and reflects the mixture of Catholic and indigenous Mayan beliefs, prevalent throughout the Mayan world. The church was built on an older structure, probably a Mayan ceremonial platform. A total of 18 steps lead up to the church’s main entrance, one for each month of the Mayan calendar year. The text of the Popol Vuh, a narrative about the origins, traditions and history of the Quiché (K’iche’) Maya nation, was kept hidden by indigenous elders for centuries in the town of Chichicastenango in Guatemala.
Guatemala City historic center Guatemala’s capital city is the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Central America. Visitors interested in handicraft will find them mainly in the Central Market, located a block away from the Cathedral.
At the Central Market visitors will not only find unique Guatemalan handicrafts, but also see the colorful variety of local flowers, fruits and vegetables. The Relief Map, located in Minerva Park is a good place to see the extension of Guatemala and also the “Torre del Reformador”, a short scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. Guatemala City has an active cultural life throughout the year. Most of the country’s museums are in the city. There are also more than 30 galleries showing Guatemalan artists in painting, photography, engraving and sculpture.