Surrounded by dramatic volcanoes, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua Guatemala is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the area. Stroll along Antigua Guatemala's cobbled streets to discover dramatic ruins of churches destroyed by earthquakes, and new Baroque-style Spanish architecture set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. Antigua Guatemala is very much still a living city, rather than just an open-air museum, and is a place where two different cultures survive hand in hand; the indigenous Guatemalan heritage and living traditions thriving within the Spanish-colonial architectural shell.
Following the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Antigua Guatemala became the capital of Central America. During many years of wealthy Spanish rule, palaces, churches, parks, fountains and the cathedral were built. Painstakingly restored, this colonial city looks much as it did 200 years ago, competing with Cusco and Cartagena as Latin America's most beautiful colonial city.
Walking the cobblestone streets, through colourful squares and past whitewashed churches, there is plenty to discover - art galleries, fascinating museums, and traditional markets packed with bright, locally made textiles and other craftwork. When changing money, ask for smaller quetzal notes as market shopkeepers often don't have change so having some improves your haggling power.