"franar's new Guatemala City Page" Guatemala City by franar
Guatemala City Travel Guide: 174 reviews and 403 photos
Full country name: Republic of Guatemala
Area: 109,000 sq km (42,500 sq mi)
Population: 12.6 million (growth rate 2.6%)
Capital city: Guatemala City (pop 2 million)
People: 56% mestizo/ladino descent, 44% Mayan descent
Language: Spanish, Garífuna and 21 Mayan languages
Religion: Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Mayan-Catholic fusion
Guatemala City is the largest urban agglomeration in Central America - it's far from a pretty site. It sprawls across a range of flattened, ravine-scored mountains, covering an entire mountain plain and tumbling into the surrounding valleys. With its rickety chicken buses and chaotic marketplaces, the city's Latin character is over the top to the point of cliché. Like all Guatemalan towns, a strict grid system has been imposed on the city's layout: avenidas run north-south; calles run east-west. The huge city has been divided into 15 zones, each with its own version of this grid system.
Few colonial buildings grace the city, and it is visited more for its role as the nation's administrative and transport hub than as a must-see tourist site. In Zona 1, Plaza Mayor is a classic example of the standard Spanish colonial town-planning scheme, and is the city's ceremonial center, with the retail district nearby. It's best visited on a Sunday, when it's thronged with thousands of locals who come to stroll, eat ice cream, smooch on a bench, listen to boom-box salsa music and ignore the hundreds of trinket vendors. The square is lined by the imposing Palacio Nacional, currently being restored to house a national history museum, and the twin-towered Catedral Metropolitana. An earthquake destroyed the original market building adjacent to the square in 1976, and today the hugely chaotic Mercado Central specializes in tourist-oriented crafts.
North of Zona 1 is the shady and restful Parque Minerva, featuring a quirky relief map of the country. Several important museums can be found in Zona 10, including the Museo Popol Vuh, which is a superb private collection of Mayan and Spanish colonial art, and the Museo Ixchel, which displays the rich traditional arts and costumes of Guatemala's highland towns. Zona 13 houses the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, with its prized collection of Mayan artifacts, and the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, which has a superb collection of 20th-century Guatemalan art. Several km west of the center lie the extensive ruins of Kaminaljuyú, an important Late Pre-classic/Early Classic Maya site. Unfortunately, the ruins have been largely covered by urban expansion.
Most of the city's cheap and middle-range hotels are in Zona 1, while posh hotels are clustered in Zona 10. Zona Viva is the place to go to eat expensively and dance the night away.
A relatively high level of violent crimes are committed against foreigners in Guatemala, so travellers should always be... more travel advice
impresive for me, everytime you go a restaurant, bar, discotheque or night club the security stuff(with ak-47 and others... more travel advice
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