South of Antigua Guatemala: Ciudad Vieja, San Pedro Las Huertas, San Gaspar

In February 2015, I took a trip to Guatemala.  While the focus of my visit was to be on Antigua, I did want to see some other outlying areas.  Being interested in churches, I did some research and found a few I wanted to see.  Each outlying town seemed to have one or two, but I wasn’t sure about transportation between these areas.  I like to walk, and the distances didn’t seem too great.  So, on a Sunday morning I had a taxi driver drop me in Ciudad Vieja, southwest of Antigua.  My goal was to walk from there back to Antigua, stopping in several outlying communities to photograph churches and whatever else caught my eye.  This ended up being about an 5 mile or 8 kilometer walk by the time I returned the to the center of Antigua.  Here is the route:

 

My route from Cidudad Vieja back to Antigua.
My route from Cidudad Vieja back to Antigua.

 

Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala was the second colonial capital of Guatemala. The Spaniards founded the city in 1527.  It was destroyed by Volcan Agua in 1541, so the Spaniards then moved the capital five miles away to Antigua.  The village that became reestablished on the site came to be called Ciudad Vieja (old city).  This is where I started my journey.  Here are some photos of the church and plaza at the center of the city.

 

Facade of the church in Ciudad Vieja with Volcan Pacaya in the background.
Facade of the church in Ciudad Vieja with Volcan Agua in the background.

 

Church and clock tower in Ciudad Vieja.
Church and clock tower in Ciudad Vieja.

 

Church in Ciudad Vieja.
Church in Ciudad Vieja.

 

Square with clock tower and Volcan Pacaya, Ciudad Vieja.
Square with clock tower and Volcan Agua, Ciudad Vieja.

 

Square with Volcan Fuego in the distant background.
Square with Volcan Fuego in the distant background.

 

About halfway from the square in Ciudad Vieja to the outside of town, I walked past the church of San Miguel Escboar.  A service was underway, the church was a soft yellow with an interesting bell tower attached to the right side.

 

San Miguel Escobar, Ciudad Vieja.
San Miguel Escobar, Ciudad Vieja.

 

After walking out of Ciudad Vieja and through the countryside, I came upon San Pedro Las Huertas.  The jewel of this town is the church, San Pedro Apostol.  It’s a beautiful orange, and built in the “squat baroque” style that is so common in this area.  Squat baroque refers to the rather chunky nature of these churches — built rather short, with very thick walls and adorned with baroque details.  The thick walls resist the earthquakes common in this area.  San Pedro and the square were a beehive of activity.  Children playing, dogs, chicken buses, and women washing clothes in a communal wash area in the square.  Here are some photos from San Pedro:

 

Church in San Pedro Last Huertas, Guatemala
Church in San Pedro Last Huertas, Guatemala

 

Dog in San Pedro Las Huertas
Dog in San Pedro Las Huertas

 

Clothes washing in front of church, San Pedro Las Huertas
Clothes washing in front of church, San Pedro Las Huertas

 

Band members board a chicken bus, San Pedro Las Huertas
Band members board a chicken bus, San Pedro Las Huertas

 

Church in San Pedro Last Huertas, Guatemala
Church in San Pedro Last Huertas, Guatemala

 

Chicken bus and dog, San Pedro Las Huertas
Chicken bus and dog, San Pedro Las Huertas

 

I continued along to San Gaspar Vivar.  San Gaspar seemed little more than a crossroads — the church and a few square blocks of homes and businesses.  The church has seen better days, it’s unclear to me if it lost its tower along the way, or never had one (note the bells simply hanging from a wooden beam long the top).  The church fronts a small square with a pleasant fountain.  It was a very quiet day in San Gaspar.

 

Church in San Gaspar Vivar, Guatemala
Church in San Gaspar Vivar, Guatemala

 

Church in San Gaspar Vivar, Guatemala
Church in San Gaspar Vivar, Guatemala

 

From San Gaspar, I continued my walk, about another twenty minutes back to the south side of Antigua.  This stretch of road was a little too busy for my taste, but it was over quickly.  I spent about three hours doing this route, and it was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning.

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