Founded in 1543, La Antigua was once the third most important Spanish city in the Americas. The city, built on a grid plan inspired by the Italian Renaissance, amassed a number of superb monuments in less than three centuries. Its rich colonial heritage (the town is packed with churches, monasteries, and convents), famous Easter celebrations, three surrounding volcanoes, and abundance of flowers, make it a Mecca for tourists.
Surrounded by valleys, with nearby mountains looming overhead, Chichicastenango (2030 meters) seems isolated from the rest of Guatemala. When its narrow cobbled streets and red-tiled roofs are enveloped in mist as they often are, it seems magical. Though isolated, Chichi has always been an important market town. Villagers from throughout the region would walk for many hours carrying their wares to participate in the commerce here.
The Peten is an area of exuberant tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, deep forests and dry plains dotted with lakes and Maya cities. There are three reasons why travelers would want to penetrate the forests of El Peten: first to visit Tikal, the greatest Maya religious center yet discovered; second to enjoy the great variety of birdlife; and third to see the Guatemala of small farming villages and jungle hamlets, without paved roads or colonial architecture.
The capital of Guatemala is the largest city in Central America. Founded in 1776, the city is a blend of modern sleek glass skyscrapers and colonial architecture. Its main tourist attraction is the Historic Center where you will find the Central Market, the National Palace, and colonial churches dating from the 17th century. The Ixchel museum is worth a visit. The tourist area is known as Zona Viva and includes most of the fancy hotels, restaurants, shops, and nightlife spots.
The Lake Atitlan is located in the mountainous Department of Solola, in the Guatemalan highlands about 1563 m. It is a natural wonder of blue, set against a backdrop of three 10,000-foot volcanoes - Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro - towering on the southern sky. Their cones are covered with pine and wide leaf forest, are a refuge for endangered plants and animals. Lining the shores of Lake Atitlan are a dozen Indian villages where life and customs have changed little over the centuries.
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