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Home > Destinations > Guatemala

Guatemala

Guatemala has long been one of the most mysterious of Central American countries.

MayanA great starting point for your visit is Guatemala's modern capital - Guatemala City. Built on the 2,000-year-old ruins of the Mayan city of Kaminaljuyú. This sprawling metropolis offers visitors an incredible variety of attractions, shops, and eateries, but an organized system of zonas (zones), calles (streets), and avenidas makes it easy to find your way around.

Busy Parque Central is a great place to begin. First, learn the story of Guatemala at the National Palace, or Palacio Nacional. Visit the remains of the Spanish fortress of San José. Light a candle at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Study the Mayan treasures dramatically showcased in the popular Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena.

Discover Guatemala in detail at the world's largest national relief map (more than 19,000 square feet!) in Minerva Park. See Olympic City, built for the Central American Games in 1950. Shop for leather goods, baskets, and textiles in Mercado Central. Stop for a cup of 100% pure, organic café, made from beans grown high on the hills surrounding Guatemala City.

Outside the city, Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango are both must-sees. Chichicastenango's cobblestone streets are sleepy, except on Thursday and Sunday when it attracts thousands of Indians to its well known market. Just a 2½ hour drive from Guatemala City, this is a huge attraction for those interested in native handicraft shopping. The nearby ancient town of Quetzaltenango also features Mayan hand-woven products.

Guatemala ChurchDon't miss the opportunity to visit Antigua. Founded in 1543, Antigua was the seat of Spanish colonial government for the Kingdom of Guatemala, which included Chiapas (southern Mexico), Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Antigua today is a colonial-style city, full of historic buildings, some restored.

Must sees here are the main square, Palace of the Captains General (for two centuries the seat of Spanish colonial government), churches, monasteries, as well as other important ruins. Other attractions include Ciudad Vieja and San Antonio Aguas Calientes, well known for its textiles.


 
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