Guatemala City travel guide

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Guatemala City

Cosmopolitan Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción

Much of Guatemala City is built on the ruins of the ancient Mayan settlement of Kaminaljuyu; on a clear day, the city lives in the foreboding yet inspiring shadows of several active volcanoes. All this leaves one with the impression of something mysterious and perhaps otherworldly about this otherwise nondescript Central American capital. Most travelers try to spend as little time as possible in "Guate" (it is perceived as polluted, chaotic, and unsafe) - as everyone in the city calls it - and use the original Spanish capital of Antigua as a base. This sprawling and in some parts quite modern city, situated precariously underneath volcanoes, on seismic fault lines, and over ravines and mountains, is home to 2.5 million inhabitants. Divided into 25 zones, the city is easy to negotiate. Zone 1 is the center of town, with buildings of historic interest such as the Cathedral, Congress, and Presidential House. Zone 10 is the "Zona Viva," an upmarket and safe area, home to glitzy clubs, bars, hotels, embassies, and restaurants. Despite the damaging negative image that comes with Guate, there are places to enjoy such as 4 Grados Norte, with its street performers and artists, and some fantastic museums, such as the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena and the Museo Popul Vuh, both found in the Francisco Marroquín University.

YouTube Guatemala City videos

  • Cumple de Papito [00:28]

  • Lava flow on Volcån Pacaya [01:53]

  • Climbing Volcan Pacaya [03:18]

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