Art and culture in Guatemala | Insider tips for our DW travel guide | DW | 07.11.2013
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Travel Guide

Art and culture in Guatemala

Ancient cities and impressive natural beauty provide inspiration for natives and visitors alike. José Samuel takes us on a journey through Guatemala.

a Antigua, the former capital of the Spanish colony in the highlands: seen from above

a Antigua, the former capital of the Spanish colony in the highlands: seen from above.

Guatemala is a country in Central America located on the southern part of the Yucatán peninsula.

The ancient Maya city of Tikal, located in the middle of the jungle in northern Guatemala

The ancient Maya city of Tikal, located in the middle of the jungle in northern Guatemala.

Our journey begins in the ancient city of Tikal which was founded in 250 BCE. Tikal is the most important city of the ancient Maya civilization and it is located in the Petén department in northern Guatemala. Here you will find hundreds of examples of ancient architecture and several pyramids, some of which are over 30 meters high. These impressive feats of construction and the number of different plants and animals found here shows us how mighty this culture once was.

The city of Tikal and its surroundings belong to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites and a trip around the region will show you why. Just take one of the many hiking trails in Tikal National Park and you will find yourself in the middle of a tropical rain forest, where you can climb the steps of massive pyramids and be amazed by the endless variety of wildlife. On your hike you will run into monkeys, coatis, tamanduas (a relative of the anteater), parrots, toucans, turkeys and other exotic creatures. I must say that Tikal has to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations on earth.

Lake Atitlán, the second largest lake in Guatemala.

Lake Atitlán, the second largest lake in Guatemala.

Next on our trip is a visit to Lake Atitlán, a crater lake surrounded by volcanoes located in the western department of Sololá. Thousands of years ago one of the three volcanoes here erupted and left a crater behind. Over the years it filled with water and created the lake that is there today. Indigenous peoples settled around the lake – for example the Maya who still live here. The lake provides the source of people’s livelihood as well as inspiration. The captivating views of the surrounding natural beauty and the song of the native birds inspire those who live here, giving them a special appreciation of art. Visitors here can find art galleries everywhere where local artists display their unique collections.

While you are here, you shouldn’t forget to try the corn flour tamales, a traditional dish enjoyed all over Guatemala. The corn dough is topped with meat, cheese or other delicious ingredients and then steamed to perfection.

Our trip will conclude with a walk through the streets of La Antigua Guatemala, also known as simply La Antigua. The city is the capital of Sacatepéque region located in the central Guatemalan highlands. It embodies the Spanish influence on Guatemala and was founded in 1543 by the Spanish conquistadors at the foot of Agua Volcano. For more than 200 years, from 1543 to 1773,
the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, a Spanish colony from the time after the Spanish conquests until 1821. A major earthquake completely destroyed La Antigua in 1773. Since 1979, the city is a UNESCO world heritage site, just like Tikal. Travelers today can admire the Baroque architecture when walking around the paved streets or stopping by the ruins of old churches. You can also try different dishes that reflect European and indigenous culinary styles and of course enjoy the best coffee on earth. Guatemala is a truly fascinating travel destination and all of you are invited to come here and pay us a visit!

Sent by: José Samuel from Guatemala
Edited by: Jeanette Müller

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