One of the surprising pleasures of my time in Mexico and Guatemala has been the beautiful central plazas and parks in each city. Parque Central in Antigua is no different. The park is a hub of activity and perhaps sets the tone of daily life in the city. The park is resplendent and features some noteworthy buildings.
On the south side the Captain-Generals’ Palace dominates the horizon. It was the political center of all of Central America from Chiapas, Mexico down to Costa Rica until 1773. My Spanish teacher said that “without this building Antigua just wouldn’t be Antigua.”
On the east side is Catedral De Santiago. It was founded in 1542 and severely damaged by several earthquakes throughout its history.
On the north side of the park is City Hall or Palacio Del Ayuntamiento, built mostly around 1743. It houses city offices and 2 museums.
In the center of the park is the famous fountain, Fuente de las Sirenas, which was built in 1738.
During the day people gather in the park. A lot of villagers come here to sell their handicrafts to tourists. There are stores and cafes along the western side and northwestern corner of the park. During many nights there is live music outside in the park.
As a visitor to the city, the park is a way to orient yourself within Antigua. If you become lost or disoriented you can ask where the park is in association to where you currently are and generally figure out how to get where you want to go.