ANTIGUA GUATELAMA USEFUL INFORMATION
NAME: ANTIGUA GUATEMALA
HEIGHT (Meters above sea level): 1,530
POPULATION (Sacatepéquez department): 300,265 inhabitants.
TEMPERATURE: Normal maximum: 25 degrees centigrade.
Normal minimum: 13 degrees centigrade.
LAND AREA: 465 km².
FOUNDATION: 1776 (second foundation).
ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES: Ceramics, crafts, wrought iron, textiles, coffee and carpentry. Cultivation of beans, corn, vegetables, wheat, peaches and oranges. Tourism.
LANGUAGE: Spanish and Kakchiquel.
NAME OF THE INHABITANTS: Antiguan or “panza verde” (green belly).
HOW TO GET THERE: From the country’s capital city (Ciudad de Guatemala), take the CA-1 highway and when in San Lucas, take National Highway 10. The estimated time for this journey is 45 minutes.
DISTANCE FROM THE CAPITAL CITY: 45 kilometers.
LOCATION: Chimaltenango is on the North and West boarders; to the South, Escuintla and to the East, Guatemala City.
WEBSITES WITH MORE INFORMATION: www.antiguaguatemala.info
Even though in 1774 the colonial authorities decreed its proscription and abandonment to create a new regional capital, its inhabitants gradually gave life to the city of Antigua once more. Nowadays this city is one of the most important touristic attractions in Guatemala. As an urban and colonial architectural jewel, it conserves its characteristics as though time had stopped. Due to its great historical and cultural value, it was declared a “World Heritage” by the UNESCO in 1979.
CLIMATE AND TEMPERATURE
Antigua is located at 1530 meters (5020 feet) above sea level, at 14° 33' 24" north latitude and at 90° 44' 02" west longitude. Its cumulative annual rainfall is of 952.50 mm. Its maximum temperature reaches 25 degrees centigrade and the minimum, 13 degrees. Its climate is temperate and semi-cold. It is recommended to wear light clothing, sun block and sunglasses.
At the time our event will take place, the temperature in Antigua will range from 15ºC to 28ºC. At nighttime there will be some dew and there may be some light rain during the evening. We suggest you wear a light jacket for the social events taking place outdoors.
Historical climate records in La Antigua Guatemala are as follows:
- Maximum temperature 28ºC - minimum 15ºC.
- Humidity between 70% and 77%.
- Rainfall: 12mm in April (6 days of rain) and 45m in May (15 days of rain)
The department of Sacatepéquez is known for having a very diverse economic activity and an extensive gastronomic offer, which allows the visitor to taste the vast Guatemalan culinary menu. Highlighted dishes include: chicken in pepián mestizo (vegetables and spices), rooster in stew or corn beer, duck stew, iguashte (vegetable salad in squash seed sauce), white tamales, chicken in sweet “mole”, rolled pig’s head, hilachas (shredded beef in tomato sauce), pepián, mole (chocolate and chili based sauce), stuffed chilies, corn gruel, toasts with tomato sauce, beans or guacamole, traditional Antiguan piloyada (bean salad with pork), red tamales and sweets among which can be found the Canillitas (milk candies), nuégados (chewy fried fritters made from the yucca root) , crystallized figs, those with cinnamon and the orange helmets.
Antigua Guatemala counts with excellent gastronomic establishments to satisfy those with the most refined tastes. There are French, Italian, German, Argentine, Oriental and Mediterranean food restaurants, as well as others that offer Mexican dishes, vegetarian menus and typical fusion cuisine dishes.
MEANS OF TRANSPORT BY LAND FROM ANTIGUA
From the Antigua Guatemala station and other close locations, local buses to different municipalities generally depart every 15 to 30 minutes.
In order to rent a car it is necessary to present a passport, an international drivers license and a credit card. The person who rents the car must generally be over 25 years old. Insurance policies do not cover vehicle thefts. This is why it is necessary to be careful when choosing a place to park the car, especially at night. Traffic flows on the right hand side of the road, and it is advised to check traffic laws in order to travel with no inconveniencies.
Address: 6.ª Avenida Sur # 22.
Telefax: (502) 7832-8107/08/09.
Camino Real Antigua Hotel:
Address: 7.ª Calle Poniente 33B.
Teléfono: (502) 7968-6156.
Porta Antigua Hotel:
Address: 8.ª Calle Poniente # 1.
Teléfono: (502) 2269-4231.
When taking a taxi, passengers must insist on the taxi drivers turning the taximeters on, for in this way the fare can be checked with the aid of distance-price tables. For journeys to the outskirts of the city or to the airport, a surcharge may be added by the drivers.
It is recommended to take taxies requested by phone. The staff at the hotel the visitor is staying at can make the phone call.
ENTERING THE COUNTRY
All visitors must carry a passport (unless the visitor is a Central American citizen) with a minimum validity of 6 months, plus a return ticket.
Depending on the visitor’s nationality, a Visa might be required to enter the country.
Visa type and number of entries to the country
According to the purpose of the trip, the visitor might only need a tourist Visa, or a business Visa. Do not commit the mistake of processing your Visa and then planning multiple journeys. Visas are a legal permit to stay in the country, which can establish a time limit for the visit and also a limit for entries and departures. If your Visa allows only ONE entry, you must process it again if you need to enter the country more than once.
Simple and tourist visas generally cost 25 USD for ONE entry.
The same visa for multiple entries costs USD 50, which is also the cost of the business visa. The multiple entries visa allows you to remain in the country for 90 days, and the business visa with multiple entries, 180 days.
Check if you need a visa and find out the requirements to begin the process, according to your nationality, before travelling.
You may visit http://www.minex.gob.gt/Visor_Pagina.aspx?PaginaID=21 to check the list of those nationalities that require a visa.
Electrical outputs allow the use of U.S. flat style plugs of 110 volts.
The country’s official currency is the Quetzal. Consult the Guatemalan Bank website http://www.banguat.gob.gt/ to check the rate exchange of the day, which should be about USD 1 = Q 7.82 .
MONEY EXCHANGE IN ANTIGUA
In the city of Antigua Guatemala there are no exchange houses, but the currency exchange can be done at hotels or in banks.
Most of the banks are opened from 9.00 am until 19.00 pm. Some banks such as the Central Bank are opened only until 14.00 pm from Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays they generally open from 10.00 am until 14.00 pm. Some banking institutions have ATMs that work 24 hours a day.
Banco Agrícola Mercantil
Address: 4.ª Calle Poniente # 8.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-0048 / 7832-3826/27.
Address: 3.ª Calle Poniente Interior Distribuidora Elektra.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-5887 / 7832-5901.
Banco de Antigua S.A.
Address: Calzada Sta. Lucía # 57.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-2042 / 7832-3710 / 7832-5256.
Banco de América Central (Credomatic)
Address: 5.ª Avenida Norte # 8, Portal de las Panadera.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-1175.
Address: 4.ª Calle Oriente # 10 Edificio El Jaulón.
Teléfono: (502) 7832-5674 / 7832-5737 / 7832-5734.
Banco de Desarrollo Rural BANRURAL S.A.
Address: 1.ª Avenida del Chajón # 26.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-0075.
Banco de los Trabajadores
Address: 4.ª Calle Poniente # 22.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-8877/79.
Banco del Crédito Hipotecario Nacional
Address: 3.ª Calle Poniente # 17.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-0639.
Banco G&T Continental
Address: 5.ª Avenida Sur # 2, Portal de las Panaderas.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-3677 / 7832-0639.
Banco Industrial S. A.
Address: 4.ª Calle Poniente # 14.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-3362/3 / 7832-4114.
Banco Inmobiliario S.A.
Address: 5.ª Calle Poniente # 38.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-3753.
Address: 5.ª Calle Poniente y 6.ª Avenida, esquina.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-8877.
Address: 4.ª Calle Poniente # 1A.
Phone Number: (502) 7832-5448.
ATMs AND CREDIT CARDS
ATMs are located on the main roads and in shopping centers. Some credit cards such as Cirrus, Visa and MasterCard, allow you to perform international transactions with debit and credit cards.
Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept international credit cards. The most frequently used are MasterCard and American Express.
For international phone calls dial: 00 + country code + area code + phone number
For national phone calls just dial the phone number.
In Antigua restaurants a 10% tip is automatically added to the bill. In small restaurants tip is optional, but commonly at least a small tip is left.
Smoking is forbidden in enclosed areas. These are all spaces under a roof or enclosed between one or more walls, regardless of the material used in the roof or the walls and of the type of structure (permanent or temporal).
In general, Guatemala has a warm climate. This is why it is recommended to bring light and comfortable clothes. It is nevertheless convenient to bring a coat as well because in some places the temperature can be a bit colder. It is also advisable to bring hats and sunglasses, and as footwear sandals, sport shoes or comfortable and closed shoes.
If you travel between the months of November and February, the climate can be a little bit cold; this is why it is recommended to carry shirts or different clothes with long sleeves in your luggage. During the summer months it is convenient to bring light clothes, because at midday it can get very hot.
The department of Sacatepéquez has got a great variety of touristic places such as the San Lucas Sacatepéquez market, where the visitors may try delicious typical dishes; the Jocotenango Church and its market; the Water Volcano; the Mirador del Cerro de la Cruz (Viewpoint of the Cross Hill), a viewpoint from which the colonial city can be seen together with a beautiful landscape; Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango, with construction and contests of kites; San Antonio Aguas Calientes (Saint Anthony Hot Waters) and the crafts market of Antigua, where you can buy typical articles. Most of the historical places can be found in the departmental capital, Antigua Guatemala; some of them are: the Metropolitan Cathedral; the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of the General Captains); the Palacio del Noble Ayuntamiento (Palace of the Noble City Hall); the Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop’s Palace); La Merced (The Mercy) Church, where Jesus of Nazareth is worshiped, an splendid example of colonial imaginary; San Francisco Church, that keeps the Hispano-American baroque style, where the tomb of the Blessed Peter of Saint Joseph of Betancur can be found; Saint Claire; La Recolección (The Harvest) Church; Capuchins, the last female convent founded in Santiago; the Popenoe House, that still preserves furniture and a kitchen from colonial times; the K’ojom House, located on La Recolección (The Harvest) street, a centre of Guatemalan traditional music investigation that counts with a traditional musical instruments museum.
The Fuego (Fire), Agua (Water) and Acatenango volcanoes are amongst the most important touristic places of the area, for a great amount of local and international visitors go near its sides in order to climb them and reach their peaks.
Markets opening hours
Antigua Guatemala: Daily traditional market (main days: Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays)
Pre-Columbian archeological sites
There are several. In Antigua Guatemala: El Portal (the gateway); in Ciudad Vieja (Old City): Pompeya; in Pastores (Shepherds), in La Cruz (The Cross) farm: the Nanayaca Cave; in Saint Luke Sacatepéquez: the Alux Hill; in Santiago Sacatepéquez: Chacayá and Saint Mary Cauqué; in Sumpango: Los Pinos (The Pines).
Convento la Merced (the Mercy Convent), La Recolección (The Harvest), Saint Jerome, La Compañía de Jesús (The Company of Jesus), La Candelaria (The Candlemas), Saint Claire, Saint Francis, Capuchins, Saint Joseph of Cathedral, Saint Sebastian, Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of General Captains), Palacio de Ayuntamiento (City Hall Palace).
City Square (Plaza Mayor)
It is located in the heart of the city, in the traditional grid layout so commonly used in the urban planning of Spanish colonies. It is surrounded by the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of General Captains), the Ayuntamiento (City Hall), San José Church –formerly the Guatemalan Cathedral-, the Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop’s Palace) and the Portal de Comercio (Trade Gateway), also called “Panaderas” (Bakers). In the middle of the square there is a Fountain called “Fuente de las Sirenas” (Fountain of the Mermaids): the Count of Gomera constructed it in memory of the popular legend that tells the story of a king whose daughters gave birth to children but did not want to feed them, action for which he ordered that his daughters should be tied to a post in the centre of a spring, where they died of thirst and hunger. The four mermaids in the fountain are grabbing with their breasts, which provided water to the city, with their hands. It was constructed in 1739 by Diego de Porres and it has become one of the symbols of the ancient city.
Antigua Guatemalan Cathedral
This building was constructed between 1543 and 1680, with a baroque façade, made in white mortar with the typical style of Antiguan churches. It has smooth shaft columns, a body and a steeple that had to be rebuilt after the Saint Mary earthquake in 1773. The majestic construction of the Cathedral justified the dignity of “Metropolitan” issued in 1743 by the Pope Benedict XIV. Around the main entrance, splendid stucco decorations that date from the late XVII century can be admired. The ruins of the Cathedral are at the rear, where the columns of the dome and the pendentives decorated with carved angels as well as the construction’s debris that still show the beauty of the building can be found. It is also possible to access the catacombs in the basement of the ruins.
It is located on the 6th South Avenue, the 4th Avenue, the 5th and 4th Poniente street, one block away from the City Square (Plaza Mayor). It is opened all year long and it is visited by Antigua Guatemala tourists to buy crafts, from textiles, sculptures and toys to leather articles that, put together, constitute a great picture of shapes and colors that impress the eyes of the beholder.
Palace of the General Captains (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)
It is located in front of the Central Park and it has two levels and a façade of double arches. During the XVI and XVII centuries, it protected the representative of the King. It actually holds the Guatemalan Tourism Institute information (INGUAT) and the Departmental Government offices.
Palace of the Noble City Hall (Palacio del Noble Ayuntamiento)
This construction preserves its original form since 1743, year in which it served as home of the City Council. The impressive two-level façade reveals an archery made of solid stone, and the oriental wall is one of the few that are preserved with carved stone cladding. Due to its magnificent construction, during the colonial era it was used as a prison. During present times, it houses the municipal authorities and the Museum of the Antiguan Book.
Archbishop’s Palace (Palacio Arzobispal)
It is situated towards the north of the Cathedral. Its construction dates from the first years of the VXIII century. Nowadays its ruins are scarce. However, the splendid architectural quality of the building is clearly appreciated in the remains of the cloister, in its huge door and in the solid stone frames of the doors that belong to the occidental façade of the building.
La Merced Church and Convent
This church’s façade is, without any doubt, the best example of the baroque style that predominated in the Antiguan constructions. The delicate work in ataurique (a technique that consists of embossed plaster with floral motifs) is an example of the level of architectural quality that the city reached. The spectacular Convent fountain, the biggest of all those that are still in existence in Antigua Guatemala, was constructed during the XVIII century and was partially restored in 1944. Inside the church the image of Jesus of Nazareth is worshiped, splendid example of the colonial imagery.
Saint Francis the Great Church (Iglesia de San Francisco el Grande)
It was constructed in 1579. Surrounded by walls with battlements, the church has a west front that is remarkable for its beautiful padded Salomonic columns. Once you reach the atrium, you can appreciate the temple’s main façade, which has 12 niches. In the inside, to which you can get by a lateral door, beautiful baroque altarpieces with mixtilineal figures are preserved. These are all laminated in gold, as is the chapel that preserves the body of Saint Brother Peter of San José de Betancur, who receives the devotion of many Catholics from Guatemala and Central America. In the church’s interior you can find the museum of Saint Brother Peter, where relics, clothes and objects that he used are exhibited.
Saint Claire Convent (Convento Santa Clara)
It was constructed during the first years of the XVIII century as a refuge for the nuns of the Order of Saint Claire. In the inside you can admire the double arches with excellent proportions that surround the cloister’s space. This temple’s façade, richly decorated in stucco, is on the inside of the convent and was designed to be seen from the inside by the nuns of the Order of Saint Claire, who never went out to the streets.
The Harvest Church (Iglesia de la Recolección)
Its solid walls are an example of the greatness that the Order of the Recoletos reached. Despite the natural disasters and the depredation of which it has been target, the architectural set offers an interesting perspective of convent life in those times.
Capuchin Convent (Convento de capuchinas)
Constructed in 1736, it was the last women convent of the city, of which the original name is Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza (Our Lady of Pilar of Zaragoza). The architectural set was constructed by Diego de Porres; he was the chief architect of Antigua Guatemala. In its interior the highlight is a circular patio with arches marking the 18 cells of the nuns. This set was denominated Torre del Retiro (RetreatTower). Additionally, there is a second patio that formed the main cloister, with a central fountain and arches formed by Tuscan style columns.
Temple, Convent and Arch of Saint Catherine
This temple and convent was destined to the nuns’ enclosure and it was established in 1609. The temple was inaugurated on September 15th, 1647. In 1694 the arch construction or bridge over the street, that was used as a communication route from the convent to the orchard and gardens, was constructed.
Pila de la Unión (Union Cell)
Cell of public use, inaugurated in 1853 in what was then called Saint Peter´s Park. Today it is identified with the name of the park in which it can be found.
Museum of Arms of Santiago de los Caballeros
This museum is located on the first floor of the City Hall. It offers an interesting collection of arms, paintings, sculptures and colonial furniture.
Opened daily from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm and from 14.00 pm to 18.00 pm.
Museum of the Antigua Book
This museum exhibits a valuable collection of original books and documents edited in Guatemala during the colonial period (1660 – 1821). It is located on the first floor of the City Hall building.
Opening times: From Tuesdays to Sundays from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm and from 14.00 pm to 18.00 pm.
Colonial Art Museum
This museum is located in the building that used to be one of the campuses of the University of San Carlos de Borromeo, founded by the Royal Decree of Charles II on January 31st 1767 and that became the third most ancient university in America. It exhibits artistic treasures of the colonial period, including an excellent painting of Pedro de Alvarado, Spanish conqueror of Guatemala.
It was constructed during the first half of the XVII century and it preserves in its interior furniture, various objects and one of the most interesting kitchens of those times. Thanks to the careful conservation work that has been done, the house has not lost its character of an aristocratic mansion of those days.
Opening times: from Mondays to Saturdays from 15.00 pm to 17.00 pm.
K’ojom House (La Azotea Cultural Center)
Located on de la Recolección Street, it is a centre of Guatemalan traditional music investigation that has a museum of traditional musical instruments.
Opening times: from Mondays to Fridays from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 14.00 pm to 17.00 pm. On Saturdays: from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 14.00 pm to 16.00 pm.
Antigua Guatemala Culture House
This house holds diverse social and cultural activities as well as various exhibitions where any sort of information may be obtained, mainly about artists from the Sacatepéquez department. It is located on the corner of the 4th North Avenue and the 4th Oriental Street.
It is next to the Culture House. It contains ancient books and documents of great historical and cultural value.
Mesoamerica Investigation Centre (Centro de Investigaciones de Mesoamérica – CIRMA -)
It holds an excellent library and photo library of great historical value about Mesoamerica. It is located on the 5th. Oriental Street number 5.
ECO, AGRO AND AVIO TOURISM
The department of Sacatepéquez belongs to the Mountainous Complex of the Central Altiplano. Even though its topography is mountainous and volcanic, there are some very fertile plateaus, for which its agricultural production is big and varied. There are several coffee farms (fincas) that can be visited; amongst them: Finca Filadelfia (Philadelphia Farms) in Sain Philip of Jesus; Finca los Nietos (the Grandchildren Farm) in San Lorenzo El Cubo (Saint Laurence the Cube); the Azotea (Roof) Cultural Centre, located in Jocotenango, where it is also possible to visit a butterfly farm; Colombia Farm, in the way to Ciudad Vieja (Old City); Capeleu Farm, in Saint John Alotenango; it is also possible to visit the farm of Macadamia Valhalla, in the way to San Miguel Dueñas (Saint Michael Owners), and the Viñería Chateau DeFay (Chateau DeFay winery), in Saint Mary of Jesus.
Amongst other touristic options you can find the ecological parks with walking paths to enjoy a direct contact with nature. We can mention the Florencia (Florence) Ecological Park, in Santa Lucía Milpas Altas (Saint Lucy High Cornfields), and the Senderos de Alux (Alux paths) Ecological Park, in San Lucas Sacatepéquez (Saint Lucas Sacatepéquez). Also, the El Pilar or Paraíso Azul (El Pilar Blue Paradise) Farm in San Cristóbal El Bajo (Saint Christopher the Short) that, as the previous ones mentioned, offers the opportunity to observe diverse species of birds in their natural habitat. Horseback riding, trekking and bicycle riding are also some of the activities that can be done in the farms.
Easter is the most important celebrations of the Catholic Church in the year. Catholicism is the main religion and the one with more followers and traditions in Antigua Guatemala, where the Easter period is lived intensely starting with Lent. During Easter Week solemn religious ceremonies are presented in the catholic temples and there are impressive processions that travel around the city. The city streets are decorated with artistic carpets made of flowers and sawdust while the beautiful images are transported by the devotees. The Brotherhoods that belong to different images of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ as well as numerous and different guilds maintain a constant activity during the year. In the surroundings of the city of Antigua there are monuments, churches, images and popular tradition manifestations. These places are: Cerro Mirador de la Cruz (Viewpoint of the Cross Hill), Saint Philip of Jesus, Santa Catarina Bobadilla (Saint Catarina Bobadilla), Jocotenango, Pastores (Shepherds), Saint Anne, San Bartolomé Becerra (Saint Bartholomew Becerra), Ciudad Vieja (Old City), San Antonio Aguas Calientes (Saint Anthony of the Hot Waters), San Cristóbal El Bajo (Saint Christopher the Short), San Juan del Obispo and Saint Mary of Jesus. Due to these faith manifestations, the city of Antigua Guatemala has been denominated “La Jerusalén de América” (America’s Jerusalem).
In Antigua it is also possible to follow the Route of the Pilgrim, that goes through the monuments and places that Saint Brother Peter of Betancur used to visit. Saint Brother Peter of Betancur was Guatemala’s first saint and his remains lie in the San Francisco El Grande Church, towards which every year different pilgrimages are done.
In Sacatepéquez there are different options for those who love extreme adventures. The Finca Filadelfia (Philadelphia Farm), located in Saint Philip of Jesus, offers the opportunity to practice canopy. In La Reunión Antigua Golf Resort (The Reunion Antigua Golf Resort) the challenge is to jump into the abyss at night and it is also possible to practice rappelling. In addition, this paradise-like place is not only characterized by having the biggest golf court in the country, but also for offering first class services.
Beautiful landscapes can be observed from the top of the volcanoes, especially from the Agua Volcano, in Saint Mary of Jesus, and the Acatenango Volcano, which begins to rise in San Juan Alotenango (Saint John Alotenango). Also, most tour operators offer the opportunity of visiting the Pacaya Volcano as a touristic destination that no visitor can miss.
Among other options, it is possible to visit baths such as Santa Catarina El Papur in Santa Catarina Barahona and the swimming pools of Parque Florencia (Florence Park) and the Finca El Pilar Paraíso Azul (El Pilar Blue Paradise Farm).
Some travel agencies offer the town tour, with the aim of making the cultural richness of the nearby towns known. The tour includes a visit to Ciudad Vieja (Old City), because the second Capital del Reino de Guatemala (Capital of the Guatemala Kingdom) had been founded there; San Antonio Aguas Calientes (Saint Anthony of Hot Waters), famous for its crafts and textile elaborations; Saint Mary of Jesus, for its native population and for its remains of colonial chapels; San Pedro las Huertas (Saint Peter of the Gardens), San Juan del Obispo (Saint John of the Bishop) and Jocotenango, for its colonial churches, and San Felipe de Jesús, for its gothic church and the crafts market.
Sacatepéquez is one of the departments with more folkloric richness. You must remember that this is a hybrid culture where there is a fusion of elements of Spanish, African and pre-Hispanic natives cultures. Due to the fact that Antigua Guatemala was the region’s capital for many years during the colonial times, it still preserves many related traditions, which by extension are preserved by the whole department. Material culture manifestations can specially be found, specifically those regarding visual arts and crafts.
On the other hand, Sacatepéquez is one of the most stunning departments regarding the oral tradition: legends of ghosts and banshees are told, such as the one of el Sombrerón (a mythological Guatemalan character that used to wear a big hat and serenade women, who often fell in love with him and surrendered their spirit), la Llorona (a woman that losses her children and becomes a lost soul who weeps while trying to find them), los Rezadores (a group of monks who used to walk the streets while praying), el Cadejo (a mythological animal with mysterious powers that can be seen in the wee hours of the night) and el Cura sin cabeza (the headless Priest).
During the year, various traditional festivities are celebrated, principally All Saints Day, Conception, Corpus Christi, Christmas and New Year, and some others, but the one with the most solemn and religious fervor is Christ’s Passion during Easter.
The most important patron saint celebration is held on 25th July in honor of Santiago Apostle. The saint of Antigua Guatemala, Brother Pedro, whose remains are preserved in the Church of Saint Francis the Great, is also commemorated.
Culture is manifested with equal fervor in the surrounding municipalities. In Ciudad Vieja there is a celebration for the Virgen de la Concepción (Conception Virgin) on December 8th with a theatrical dance that the locals call “La Legión” (The Legion) or “De los 24 diablos” (of the 24 devils), which was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation. In Alotenango, in order to commemorate Saint John the Baptist a picturesque Giants Dance is performed each 24th of June. The municipalities of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepéquez dazzle everybody with the construction and exhibition of kites during All Saints Day, on November 1st.
Regarding popular crafts, Sacatepéquez is one of the most important departments because typical weavings are prepared there, as the great quantity of typical dresses worn by the natives show.
Ceramics can be divided into glazed and painted majolica; nowadays Antigua Guatemala is the main producer of majolica ceramics.
Basketry is the art of weaving palm fibers, rubber, rattan, cibaque (strings from Tulle, a quite abundant Cyperaceae plant), wheat straw, bamboo and cajeta bark to produce recipients and plane objects in order to store or transport diverse articles. From the rigging hammocks, cargo nets, bags and halters are made. During its elaboration maguey fibers are used. Wooden furniture is made of white pine, cedar and mahogany. The musical instruments that are produced are guitars, violins and basses. Palm mats, metallic products such as balconies, streetlamps, dressers, door knockers and lamps are made.
Goldsmithing consists on making chains, bracelets, rings, bangles and pendants in gold and silver; oil lamps, candlesticks and lamps are made of tin; in chandlery candles of different colors and sizes, votive candles, candlesticks and taper candles are made. There is a great diversity of works and specialties in leather, with production of bags, purses, handbags, wallets, briefcases and belts.
More and more foreigners are deciding to travel to Antigua Guatemala to learn the Castilian language. By means of the different Spanish Schools students also have the possibility of staying at the houses of Guatemalan families, with whom they share their daily life and where they also learn about the countries traditions and are able to do other activities such as taking dancing lessons, joining sport activities, going on different tours, etc. Volunteering is another activity that the visitors may like to pursue in different hospitals, nursing homes, native communities and animal shelters, among others.
The infrastructure of hotels, combined with the colonial city’s mysticism, has helped Antigua Guatemala in becoming seat of congresses and conventions of several fields. Other activities such as cultural events, weddings and honeymoons are also given special attention in the region.
For the welcome cocktail and the sponsored dinner on Monday elegant casual clothes are recommended, and no jeans. No tie is necessary.
For the farewell dinner on Wednesday, long dress is recommended for ladies and dark suit and tie for gentlemen.
Punctuality is indispensable and will be welcomed for all programmed events.
You will be requested to show your identification card / badge at all the social and academic events to be allowed into the meeting rooms.
DON´T FORGET TO BRING WITH YOU
Prescribed glasses, photo or video camera with battery charger, personal medicines, comfortable and smart shoes and a sweater.
We suggest that you identify your luggage with bag tags (name and surname).
The organizers assume no responsibility for medical, travel, robbery or personal insurance.
In case of needing medical attention at the hotel please call Reception (24 hours). Hotels have a basic first-aid kits for simple situations. When a doctor is required to visit a patient, this as to bee arranged with the hotel’s reception; if necessary the patient is referred to a hospital. In any of these cases, expenses are paid by the patient.
For medical care outside the hotel:
Alerta Medica: 1711. www.alertamedica.com.gt
Hospital Hermano Pedro la Antigua: 7832-1190. www.hospitalhermanopedro.net
Hospital Sanatorio El Pilar Guatemala: 2420-0000 www.sanatorioelpilar.com
Other useful telephones:
Asistur (Tourist Police): 1500
National Police at La Antigua: 7832-0251
Municipal Police at La Antigua: 7934-6300