Saturday, August 29, 2015

La Antigua Guatemala, Land of Eternal Spring

La Antigua, in the Highlands of Guatemala

Learn Spanish or Volunteer with an NGO

Antigua Guatemala is a charming colonial city in the highlands of Central America, it is one of the world's best preserved colonial cities. This enchanting town of approx. 35,000 people makes you feel as though you are back in time 300 years, from its exceptional architecture to its beautiful surroundings. Walking through this vibrant town on the ancient cobblestone streets, you will experience the splendors of the past in a spring-like year-round climate.

Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in the early part of the 16th century; built almost 5,000 feet above sea-level in an earthquake-prone region, the city was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, though its primary structures are still preserved as ruins. In less than 300 years the city, which was built on a grid pattern inspired by the Italian Renaissance, acquired a variety excellent monuments.

Antigua Guatemala has something for all travelers, rich in colonial history with an abundance of cultural activities from art galleries, fiestas, films, adventure and cultural tourism. Enjoy the diverse Mayan and Latin cultures, hike Volcanos Agua, Acatenango, Fuego or nearby Pacaya (the latter two active volcanos) - maybe take a day-trip to Monterrico, a black sand beach on the Pacific Ocean. Antigua is the perfect base for short trips to Lake Atitlan ("most beautiful lake in the world") or the Coban Ruins with nearby Semuc Champey, one of the most interesting geological formations anywhere; at Tikal National Park, located in a rain-forest, you can explore ruins of an ancient Mayan civilization in a city inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. 

Many visitors volunteer with NGO's building houses, some help improve the lives of others through education, etc. - some volunteer at the local hospital or farms just outside town. Antigua is also a popular destination for students to learn Spanish, with a numerous Spanish Schools offering various levels of instruction. There is a surprisingly large selection of restaurants to please most any palate, including Italian, French, Indian, Asian, Latin, and of course, traditional Guatemala cuisine.

Volcano Agua rising above San Francisco Church
1a Avenida Sur, Volcano Agua, San Francisco Church