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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Very nice! I know that area well. Great photos and a nice travelogue. Btw that’s Agua (not Pacaya) in the background of a few shots.
Looking forward to more!
Thanks! I fixed those captions, I spent some time around Pacaya as well, it must have been on my mind.
I hope you’ll post more!
I love photographs and I enjoy walking so much!
I am going to spend 3 weeks in Antigua and I am so happy I just found your tips!!!!
Thanks and have a great trip!
I have spent a lot of time in Antigua. This is a great way to see a good many outside towns and villages….The church photos are beautiful, with the useful info also provided. Very good, thank you.
My husband and I are looking to get property in those areas near Antigua where it’s more affordable. Which one was your favorite of those towns if you had to live there? We aren’t interested in a super busy town like Antigua that is more inundated with tourists.
Mary, I couldn’t really say. I spent just a few hours in these places some years ago. I barely scratched the surface!
Just arrived back from Ciudad Vieja where my brother is living with his wife, baby and her family. We traveled frequently to Antigua and a couple small towns. My brother verbally pointed out these main buildings and areas, but it was nice to find a site to give me the names with pictures. Thanks. This will help document my pictures. We loved it there and want to go back hopefully in a few years. Thanks again.
Sounds like a great trip!