Published on January 28th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut

The Insider’s Tour of Antigua Guatemala

The helpful folks at Posada del Angel (the amazing seven-room luxury hotel where I’m staying in Antigua Guatemala — more about that in a future post) yesterday made an excellent recommendation: They set me up for a city tour with Elizabeth Bell, a local woman who runs a company called Antigua Tours.

I’ve been on countless city tours that aren’t much more than a rote recital of the facts about each historic site, with little context, based upon the incorrect assumption that foreigners aren’t interested in how people live now. But Bell — who in 1969, at age 14, moved here from Palo Alto, California — gives an excellent, multilayered presentation. Perhaps because she’s foreign-born and had to learn things from the ground up as an adolescent, she provides interesting insight into a variety of topics, including education, family planning, the economy, politics, health insurance and the role of non-governmental organizations and volunteers in Guatemala’s future. 

You’re treated to these diverse informational capsules not in a dry lecture, but during a fact-filled, visually exciting walking tour of Antigua Guatemala. Twenty dollars gets you this interesting three-hour experience, including visits to the city hall, the stunning ruins of the cathedral, and the various exhibits at the Paseo de los Museos complex at the hotel Casa Santo Domingo. 

Considering that Antigua Guatemala — the one-time capital of Guatemala founded in 1524 — is such an architecturally and historically important destination that it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s certainly a good idea to be with someone who knows what they’re talking about. 

Antigua Tours, 3a Calle Oriente #22; tel. +502-7832-5821

The tour starts at city hall, built around 1743.

The ruin’s of the city’s original cathedral, which dates to the 16th Century.

Elizabeth Bell explains the history of Paseo de los Museos, a grouping of historic structures and museums at Casa Santo Domingo.

Exhibits at the Museo de Arte Colonial (Museum of Colonial Art) and Museo de Arte Precolombino y Vidrio Moderno (Pre-Colombian and Glass Art Museum) are meticulously restored and maintained.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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