Guatemala City Overview
As the capital of Guatemala, Guatemala City is a down-to-earth and fascinating place to visit with a captivating historic centre. A population of approximately three million makes it the country's largest and most contemporary city, which took on the role as capital after a 1773 earthquake destroyed Antigua Guatemala, the original capital. The city is divided into 22 zones with the historic centre in zone one. This is home to beautiful architecture such as the National Palace of Culture, the Cathedral, the Presidential House and the National Library. There's also Constitution Plaza, which exudes energy and is where locals and visitors gather, creating a people-friendly feel. Much has been done to rid the city of its former old abandoned buildings and a new pedestrianised area has sprung up with attractive bars, restaurants and cafes. The city is also home to many excellent museums and galleries, including the highly original Ixchel Museum of traditional costumes and the Museum of Modern Art. Guatemala City is a place where cultural diversity meets with folkloric traditions such as the Cobán Folkloric Festival (Cobán is just outside the city centre), Burning the Devil Celebrations and the Coffee Harvest Celebration.
Things to Do
With more museums than many famous capital cities in the world, Guatemala City is also home to beautiful architecture, history and also lots of fun things to do.
The city is blessed with incredible museums, including the Ixchel Museum of traditional costumes in zone 10, the nearby Popol Vuh Museum with interesting archaeological items and a fine collection of contemporary works at the Museum of Modern Art in zone 13.
A date with the animals
La Aurora Zoo in zone 13 has a wide variety of animals in excellent conditions including Bengal tigers. This green and spacious environment is an excellent place to learn about animals in their regional habitats.
Theme park fun
Mundo Petapa Irtra in zone 12 is a fun theme park with affordable rides and games that even adults will enjoy. In fact, it's been hailed as one of the best theme parks in Central America.
Calendar of Events
Many colourful and interesting festivals take place throughout the year every year in Guatemala City to celebrate or commemorate special occasions; they allow visitors to truly experience the city's culture.
Burning the Devil Celebrations. Every year in December locals burn rubbish outside their homes to mark the burning of the devil. This is especially important in the city as it's closely linked to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception honouring the city's patron saint.
Coffee Harvest Celebratio. In early February, the two-day Coffee Harvest Celebration takes place in Fraijanes near Guatemala City. There are processions, excellent local food and music and lots of coffee to sample!
Folkloric Festival of Rabinal Ajau. Every July, this historic festival honours the Kekchis Indian culture with dancing and performances by Kekchis in traditional costumes. This lively festival takes place in Coban, very near to the capital city itself.