The 16th century Spanish conquest devastated what remained of the Mayan population, but the era left behind some wonderful colonial towns and cities with special atmospheres.
The most attractive and best-preserved colonial era city in Guatemala, perhaps in all of Latin America, is that of Antigua. This historic 16th century city sits amid volcanic peaks in the south of the country and boasts atmospheric cobbled streets, lined with pastel coloured colonial architecture. Amongst the most notable monuments here are various Baroque cathedrals, churches and convents, some of which are in poignant ruin, as well as fountains, statues, and the Arch of Santa Catalina, with the Volcán de Agua stood proudly behind. It also offers interesting markets, museums, galleries and cafes in which to get to know the modern day Antigua or better understand its rich history.
Chichicastenango may be best known for being one of the most vibrant markets in all of Latin America, but it is also remarkable for its 400 year old Santo Tomás Church, built by the Spanish upon the ancient platform and steps of a Mayan temple.
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