• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Antigua Guatemala

  • Historical Function


Location and site

At the heart of Central America, Antigua Guatemala was built in the Valley of Panchoy at 1,500 m. above sea level. It is located near the Agua and Fuego volcanic summits, in the midst of a region threatened by earthquakes.

Urban Morphology

The plan of Juan Bautista Antonelli (who was also responsible for the design of the fortifications at Cartagena, Havana, and San Juan, Puerto Rico) corresponds to an orthogonal grid that is oriented according to the four cardinal points. The squares and exits of Antigua Guatemala are carefully located, and the ensemble borrows some of its features from the Renaissance. The essential elements of the original urban grid have endured.

The architectural landscape of this small colonial city of 50 hectares is dominated by Baroque churches and convents dating to the 18th century. The ensemble of the city, which was reconstructed several times following consecutive earthquakes, possesses the appearance of a defensive stronghold: its walls are thick and its towers are low. It is very colourful.

Registration Criteria

Antigua Guatemala was the birthplace of the style known as "Barroco antigueno," which spread throughout Latin America. It exported religious artworks to Spain. (II) This capital presents a unique testimony to an American colonial city of the Baroque era. (III) Antigua offers an eminent example of an architectural ensemble of the 18th century and evokes the context of daily life with a precision of an archaeological site. (IV)

Historical Reference

  • The Mayas had already submitted to the Aztecs when Pedro de Alvorado, who was sent to Guatemala by Cortés, founded the capital city, Santiago el Mayor. Three years later, the site was abandoned following a native uprising.
  • In 1527, the capital was relocated to Almolonga, which was destroyed by an earth tremor and volcanic eruption in 1541. A series of devastating earthquakes followed.
  • In 1543, Santigao el Mayor was relocated to the present-day site of Antigua Guatemala. The following year, it became the seat of the general harbour master's office and its territory extended to all of Central America. The first urban plan was traced by Antonelli. In 1590, the city was reconstructed following another earthquake. Monuments of medieval and Renaissance inspiration were erected during the 17th century. Another earthquake, in 1717, led to an architectural boom during which a number of important buildings were reconstructed; these were left in ruins in 1773 by the next major earthquake.
  • In 1775, the Spanish authorities decided to relocate the capital of Guatemala.
Arq. Susana Heidi Asencio Lueg
Municipalidad de la Antigua
Palacio del Ayuntamiento 4ta. Calle Poniente
Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
+502 7720-7670, 7720-7770
+502 783 20577