Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Antigua Arch
View through the Arch to Volcano Agua

Antigua is a fantastic old historic Spanish colonial city. Low buildings, flat, bright colours, cobbled streets, big doors, looming cathedrals, grid lay-out. Plus plenty of abandoned churches and buildings left unrepaired from the earthquake in the 1770s.

Antigua Door
A typically impressive Antiguan door

Plus a plethora of cafes, restaurants and bars - many set in delightful courtyards fringed with arched cloisters and brimming with flowering plants. It is a food and drink delight set in stylish surroundings. I made the most of the great numbers of delicious cakes on offer. It is a place to wander from old building to old building, a tea, coffee or hot chocolate in a cafe and to drop in to a gallery or museum. We stopped by one art exhibition opening, found a great open air courtyard restaurant/bar with a great band, and explored the ruined cathedral which is Escher like in the way its surviving arches and their shadows intersect. It is like Barcelona without the modern bits.

Antigua Street
A typical Antiguan street

Add to this three volcanoes looming overhead, one still active and periodically emitting smoke, for a very special town indeed.

Antigua Potluck

We stayed in a beautiful room in a casa which was way over our budget but we can save a bit later. It was worth it for the rooftop terrace - great views and yoga space - nice rooms and quiet. No drunken backpackers talking rubbish in an adjacent courtyard until late into the night. My we're getting old!

La Merced
La Merced

We were very close to the awesomely ornate La Merced church who's bells rang out for mass at 6 - both in the morning and at night. Outside was a great place to buy pupusas at the weekend - cheese filled maize tortillas with salad, refried beans, guacamole and chilli.

Bicycle to Church
Taking your bicycle to mass

The other main standing church is the cathedral by the park.

Antigua Cathedral
Cathedral Traffic Lights

Antigua Sentinel
Cathedral Saint and Door

There are also well-used public pilas in the city. These are washing stations for clothes. Most villages and towns have, or had them, though more and more people have their own at home. Even the Antigua pilas are stylish!

Antigua Pilas

I would happily return to Antigua to live for a few months and spend plenty of time walking around the streets taking photographs, going to see live bands and putting on weight from eating too many cakes.

One Way Antigua

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