Guatemala Colonial History

Guatemala's colonial history is present in the architecture that still stands today. Guatemala's colonization occurred in the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors first arrived; the nation remained under Spanish control for several hundred years. Thankfully, this disturbance in the country's timeline did not lead to the destruction of all of its indigenous ruins. Instead, the country has an interesting mix of ancient, colonial, and modern structures.

Antigua Guatemala
Antigua

Central Highlands

Historical tours invariably lead to the Santa Catalina Arch, which dates back to 1609. Iglesia de La Merced’s wide arches, built in 1767, were designed to deal with the frequent earthquakes. Parts of the San Francisco church date back to the 16th century, while other parts have been rebuilt over the years. One of the most beautiful churches is Iglesia y Convento de las Capuchinas, which has served as a cloister for nuns and a women’s hospital.

Peer more deeply into the city’s past at the museum in the Casa Santo Domingo Hotel, which showcases several centuries of religious artifacts. Get a look at the full expanse of the city from the lookout known as Cerro de la Cruz.

Quetzaltenango Guatemala
Quetzaltenango

Western Highlands

Strolling around the city’s central park, you'll be surrounded by neoclassical monuments. Templo Minerva is a neoclassical building designed to look like a Greek temple, but it only dates back to the early 20th century. There are also a few memorable examples of colonial architecture, and one of the highlights of a historic tour is the facade of Iglesia Catedral del Espíritu Santo that remains from the original structure, built in 1534.