The ruins behind La Merced

As I mentioned in my earlier post “Antigua’s Magnificent Le Merced“, the ruins behind this spectacular church, which resulted from a series of dramatic earthquakes over the centuries, are perhaps as equally impressive as the golden yellow exterior of La Merced herself.  It is a tough call however I have to say that there is something haunting and exciting about ruins.  I love them.

I’ve seen the fabulous ruins of Rome, spent four days hiking to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, and took an overnight dilapidated Greek ship on my honeymoon (while sleeping on the stinky floor underneath the luggage holder) just to catch a glimpse of the Turkish ruins of Ephesus.  Let’s just say, I really like ruins and there are many more that I desire to see. (Only problem of course is time.  Most ruins are in far off destinations that make it hard for  me to see at this point in my life).

At least I was able to get my fix of ruins in Antigua!  Antigua is loaded with ruins thanks (or no thanks) to all the earthquakes.  The monastery ruins behind La Merced proved to be quite impressive with its centerpiece being a 27-meter in diameter fountain which is believed to be the largest fountain in Central America.


Antigua’s magnificent La Merced

Hands down, the most beautiful church in all of Antigua and perhaps all of Guatemala is the magnificent Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (La Merced for short). Construction began in 1548 by the Mercedery Fathers who dreamed of building a temple, yet the church suffered several setbacks due to Antigua’s infamous earthquakes which wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the city.

It wasn’t for another two hundred years that the cloister and sanctuary were finally built and finished in 1749.  Then another traumatic earthquake struck Antigua in 1773 causing significant damage to the church and leaving its marvelous ruins behind it.

Today, La Merced is one of the only old churches that is still offering services on a regular basis and its brilliant yellow and white colors are a delight to the eyes and the soul.  When the Antiguan sky is clear and royal blue, the brilliant gold-yellow of La Merced is perhaps one of the most glorious sights in all of Guatemala.  Here are some photos of the magnificent La Merced and you can judge for yourself.

La Merced blends in perfectly with Antigua’s brightly colored colonial buildings and architecture.  Here is a glimpse of the church on the lefthand side of the photo.