A taste of Guatemala

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The Spanish colonial town of Antigua.

It isn’t often I find a place I want to shout to the world about, but this little haven, Antigua near Guatemala City in Central America is worthy of a fuss.

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Guatemala is becoming a very trendy destination and while much of it can be quite dangerous, Antigua is anything but.

Antigua

Just to give you a little history, Guatemala borders the Pacific Ocean so it’s on the ring of fire with 37 volcanos. Three are very active, all situated in the south near Antigua with Volcano de Fuego constantly active. Incredible glowing red lava spews from its crater every night.

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Volcanos surround the town of Antigua.

As a result volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have shaped much of its history.

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Looking down at the town of Antigua.

Antigua used to be the capital of Guatelama, but it is in fact the third capital of the country.

The Spanish first settled at a site called Ixmiche in 1524 and then moved the capital in 1527 to Ciudad Vieja. However, the entire town was lost beneath a massive mud slide in 1541 when the wall of the crate lake of Volcano de Agua collapsed.

The town was then moved to Antigua as we know it today and although there were continued threats from the instability of the bedrock, the capital settled and prospered for over 200 years.

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Much of the town has been restored although there is still a lot to be done.

The city reached its peak in the middle of the eighteenth century with a university, printing press, a newspaper and streets seething with commercial activities but all this was bought to an abrupt end with a massive earthquake in 1773. The damage was so bad the Spanish Crown ordered the capital to be moved and the city was abandoned. The new city was Guatemala City, about one hours drive from Antigua. In many respects this disaster preserved the town.

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The Cathedral is under restoration.

In the early twentieth century interest began to arise for the ancient colonial Spanish town. Not only were there notable ruins but Antigua was the first planned city in the America’s, originally built on a grid pattern, with cobbled streets and grand buildings. While a few of the buildings still in ruins, great efforts have been made to restore the town especially since Antigua was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

Meson Panza Verde Hotel

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A beautiful romantic setting at the Meson Panza Verde Hotel with dining tables alongside the lap pool.

In the beautiful town of Antigua is the Meson Panza Verde Hotel, established in 1986 as one of the first European bed and breakfast hotels in Antigua. Today, it is a small luxury boutique hotel of 12 rooms with more nooks and crannies you could wish for to relax, eat and drink.

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The unassuming front door to the Meson Panza Verde Hotel has a flat facade, looking like every other door in Antigua. Once through the door it’s a bit like slipping down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

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Our favourite waiter, Rolando.

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Every meal at the hotel was exceptional – tuna tartare

A small lap pool lined with dining tables, the reception garden and courtyard are all intimate spaces with elegance and ambiance where the finest food is served for lunch and dinner. Our favourite waiter Rolando looked after us in the evenings as did Blanca in the mornings. You would be hard pushed to find a friendlier lady who just wanted to please, literally running to the kitchen with our breakfast orders and returned with the coffee pot on her head.

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This is the gorgeous Blanca who looked after us at breakfast each morning.

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Oh, to be able to carry the coffee on my head!

These are only two of the many helpful staff at the Meson Panza Verde, but there were many more we got to know as we awaited for a new passport to arrive having lost it on our arrival in Guatemala.

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Darling Ana looked after our room and made us coffee!

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All 12 rooms in the luxury boutique hotel are a little different and are beautifully appointed.

Both Antigua and Meson Panza Verde are highly recommended by Blog the Globe

Look out for the next post on ‘What to do in Antigua‘.

 

 

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