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.
Guatemala is becoming a very trendy destination and while much of it can be quite dangerous, Antigua is anything but.
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.
As a result volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have shaped much of its history.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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‘.