The ruins of Catedral de Santiago

Antigua’s long tumultuous history of natural catastrophes have left a bittersweet mark on this nearly 500-year-old city.  Founded in March 10, 1543 by the Spanish conquistadors Antigua became the third capital of Guatemala and the capital remained there for over 200 years until death and destruction struck too many times.

In 1717 a devastating earthquake struck the area, demolishing over 3,000 buildings and leaving the gorgeous colonial city in ruins.  Over time, churches and buildings were rebuilt in force while Antigua continued to grow in power and prestige despite the geographical hazards and continual rumblings.   It took an even more devastating earthquake, which struck on July 29, 1773, to finally force the Guatemalan government to pack their bags and move the capital once again, this time to Guatemala City where it remains today.

What makes Antigua so incredibly striking and fascinating is that like the ancient city of Rome, the ruins remain.  Behind every gorgeous, serendipitous church can be found an equally impressive, spectacular set of ruins that give the visitor a glimpse of what once laid there hundreds of years before.  It can be argued that the ruins are in fact what make this city so incredibly divine.   Yes, the cobblestone streets, the three triangular volcanoes, a vibrant indigenous culture and colorfully painted buildings are sensational.  Yet, the ruins which are barren and open up naked to the sky, are beyond imagination.

Judge for yourself and take a walk with me through the ruins of Antigua.