21st May 2011

Antigua [2], surrounded by 3 volcanos, Agua, Acatenango and Fuego, was our first stop in Guatemala. Another impressive World Heritage city, Antigua was the Spanish colonial capital of Central America for 231 years. The remains of a dozen or so ornate churches, monasteries and convents destroyed by earthquakes give Antigua an unequalled charm. From our hotel window we had a perfect view of Volcán Agua.
Walking around the town we noticed local women in brightly woven cloth skirts and tops. Guatemala has the largest Mayan population of any country. There are at least 15 distinct Mayan groups in the country, speaking Spanish as a second language. The textile museum (Museo Casa del Tejido) provided a fascinating insight into the traditional Maya dress from the highlands. Each village has its own different patterns; married women wear different belts to single women. They wear a beautifully woven folded cloth on their heads for sun protection (hiding the beautiful design). The men also have their distinctive trousers and shirts, with collars to match their wives’ shawls.

Volcán Agua from our bedroom window

Twin Volcanoes Acatenango and Fuego

Cathedral in Antigua

Ruins of the Jesuit church

Inner courtyard of the Jesuit church has been restored

Iglesia La Merced

Ladies in traditional dress

Lady selling woven cloth on the street

Lady selling mangoes outside a church

Iglesia Santo Hermano Pedro has been caring for the disabled for 350 years

Entrance to the University San Carlos (1675)

Cobbled street

All the houses have chimneys

Street vendors cart

Iglesia San Francisco

Inside is a painting depicting the Maya

Other church ruins

Other church ruins

The old laundry

A lady weaving the traditional way

Example of traditional clothing

Another example of traditional clothing

Convento de Santa Catalina (1613)