Antigua means ancient. Makes sense. Walking the streets here in Nike shoes, jeans and a sweater I half expect someone in an ox pulled cart to pull around the corner and for me to realize I have gone back in time. Well, thankfully that’s not the case but that type of feeling is certainly there.
It seems like around every corner there is some sort of historic monument, ruin or cathedral, and like I mentioned in a previous blog, even the 21st century amenities, like a Wendy’s or Dunkin Donuts, are located in beautiful, ancient stone buildings.
Near the main archway that is one of the famous landmarks in Antigua and a famous photo in Guatemala in general, I was pulled in by the beautiful of a glowing yellow cathedral and it was not until I was leaving did I notice a sign saying basically “Tuesday (today) is a day for prayer. No visitors.” Oops! Complete accident but no harm, no foul.
On a recommendation from the lady at my hostel, I went to Ruinas San Francisco located on one of the adjacent streets near the main entrance to Antigua, from Guatemala City. Unlike the church before, I saw the sign this time, prior to entry. “No talking, no shorts, no sleeveless shirts, no hats, no cell phones, no dogs etc” Pretty much no to everything. I understand it is a religious place of worship and all that, and even though I am not religious at all, I will always be extremely respectful and considerate, but this, I feel is taking it a bit far. It was a hot day, am I expected to sight see in a parka?! Anyways, I moved on and entered the ruins connected to the side of the church.
A beautifully manicured courtyard greets you and you are free to meander around the grounds. Although the walls and buildings are very worn down, it is not a site of rubble and you can use your imagination to put together what it would have been like here hundreds of years ago. Also, connected to the ruins, in what seems like an additional room of the church, is a museum included in your entry charge of a few dollars. Here you will find artefacts and actual clothing from monks and people who used to live in this monastery.
Definitely one of the things to do in Antigua, is seeing the history and the ruins. From any hostel, tour company or hotel, you will be able to get a drawn map of Antigua and each map should portray all or many of the ruins in this beautiful city.