Guatemala 2013

Two Capitals: Antigua & Guatemala City

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


Antigua was the third colonial Spanish capital of Central America.  It was founded in 1543 in the central highlands, surrounded by volcanoes.  In 1717, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake ruined the city, it was rebuilt in the colonial style. In 1773, a long series of tremors forced the capital to be abandoned and moved to Guatemala City.  Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua preserves its Spanish Baroque-style architecture and cobbled streets as the most beautiful city in the Maya region.

The Parque Central occupies the center ofAntigua.  The former cathedral, administration building, and arcades are around it. Its fountains, carriages, music and jacaranda trees create a relaxing atmosphere.


Most churches and their related buildings are in ruins.  A regular outdoor market is held at the Iglesia de San Francisco.  The Semana Santa preparations and celebration are impressive and lively. 

There are over 30 ecclesiastical buildings within a few blocks of the central plaza.  Architecturally, they are rather squat, with no towers, thick walls and foundations and buttresses. Antigua is still an 18C city that has many earthquakes.   

Private property was more often restored and renovated than the church’s. It began in the middle of the 19C when a coffee boom brought wealth to the valley.  Now, behind old walls and arches, there are boutiques, restaurants, spas and sophisticated lodgings. Complete privacy and security, among other things, are provided for travelers from around the world.

Guatemala City is now the capital of Guatemala.  It does not seem to readily attract tourists.  Before going to Guatemala, we found that Walt’s uncle, Father Walter, a Franciscan missionary, had worked in the city for several years. We went to his church, the Iglesia de San Agustín and met a caretaker, Juan de la Cruz, that had known Father Walter.

The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M9 and the R9 with a digital back.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

July 30, 2013                                                                                                                                  wgfm

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