Walking around Antigua is like exploring a living museum to colonial charm. Of course there are a few buildings that stand out from the rest, iconic landmarks. Many of these landmarks are all in one place, Parque Central. Outside of the central park and plaza there are also beautiful buildings scattered about the city.
One landmark would be El Tanque La Union. Every day you can see Mayan women washing their clothes here. In their village there is a problem with the water supply so they come here to do their washing. At night, young couples come here to spend time together.
Two blocks from Parque Central is perhaps THE ICON of Antigua, Arco de Santa Catalina. It once belonged to the Santa Catalina Convent. On one of side of the street was the convent and on the other side was the school of the convent. The Arch served as a passageway between the two to keep the nuns out of public view. The convent was destroyed by earthquakes and never rebuilt.
Walk one block from the Arch and you come to Iglesia Y Convento de Nuestra Senora de la Merced, or La Merced Church. The stone cross in front of the church is from the 17th century. The baroque facade dates from the 1850s.
Not all of Antigua’s icons are actually located within the city. Located southeast of the city but still looming large is Volcan de Agua. Although it’s height and proximity are intimidating, the volcano is inactive today. It can serve as a good way to orient yourself within the city.
And finally, perhaps an overlooked icon are the actual streets of antigua, the cobblestoned “calles y avenidas” of Antigua. Although I’m sure I’ve narrowly avoided a twisted ankle every day I’ve lived here in the city, I’m sure the place wouldn’t be the same without them.