Colonial Cities
Colonial Cities
Colonial Cities
Colonial Cities
  • It is curious, having the sensation of being able to transport yourself to an ancient time, where you can still perceive the glorious history that these cities lived. Spread throughout the Central American stage, there are numerous colonial cities with cobblestone streets leading to churches, cathedrals, forts … cities, lusted for by pirates and filibusterers, that are enchanting for exploring on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage.

Walking through the history of El Salvador and Nicaragua

Begin your trip in the colonial city of Santa Ana. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, this city was inhabited by the Maya and later by the Pipiles, but, after 1540, the Department of Santa Ana (as baptised by a priest) was conquered by the Spaniards, who built the city in the style of the period. So today, Santa Ana is one of the best-conserved historic centres in El Salvador, ideal for exploring on foot.

 

Take advantage of the proximity to the Cerro Verde National Park to immerse yourself in its natural surroundings and visit the precious Izalco Volcano.

Continue your journey by discovering the “flower trail” (“la ruta de las flores”) (Nahuizalco, Salcoatitán, Juayúa, Apaneca and Ataco) where you will find cities that were inhabited during the colonial period and whose vestiges are still mixed with those of ancient indigenous nuclei, where colour is present in all of the streets.

The following stop will be in the precious town of Suchitoto, although you can pause to take in history at the Joyas del Cerén archaeological site. This is the so-called Central American Pompey, which was buried by ash after the eruption of the Laguna Caldera Volcano in the year 600 AD. This eruption caught the local Maya “in fraganti” causing the inhabitants to escape running and leaving all of their belongings behind. Now we are able to appreciate the daily life of a Meso-American pueblo of some 1,400 years ago.

 

When you arrive at your destination of Suchitoto, you will find a city that breathes peace and tranquillity, where its people are in perfect harmony with the music emanating from the central plaza. Their handicraft stores and colonial patios invite you to stay and enjoy the great environment in the charming hotels, overflowing with the enchantment of colonial times.

 

In the morning, travel to Nicaragua across the Gulf of Fonseca (the natural border between the two countries) and your first encounter with Nicaragua will be the place where poet Rubén Darío was laid to rest: the cathedral of the City of León.

 

This incredible cathedral was built some 250 years ago. It is a jewel in its ecclesiastical, historical, social, anthropological, political, cultural and artistic context and, according to the cosmic conception, its structure is divided into three levels: the infraworld (the lower level), the world (middle level) and the heavens (highest level). However, the cathedral is not the only outstanding feature of León, you must also visit the museum where the poet lived as well as some of the 16 churches in the city, many of them from the colonial period.

 

At times you will have the sensation of being in Spain.  Although León provides a more sombre image, Granada transports you to a colonial period full colour, where its internal patios and horse-drawn carriages are everywhere to be seen.

 

To end your trip, in the afternoon head for the Islets of Granada for a truly enriching experience in spectacular natural surroundings that you can explore by boat, where you will find several small islands, among them the Isle of Monkeys, with the peculiarity that these friendly animals come down to your boat to welcome you.

 

 

 

 

Walking through the history of Guatemala and Panama

These two countries are firmly attached to their history of colonial times and also coincide in maintaining their indigenous populations with their ancestral customs and traditions, even though they are very different from each other.

 

Starting in Guatemala City, travel to la Antigua Guatemala, a precious colonial city, embraced by three impressive volcanoes (that of Water, that of Fire and that of Acatenango) that you will discover by walking the streets from start to finish. Visit several of the most representative sites of the city, such as the Jade Museum, where you will see a demonstration of the process of fabrication to convert jade into jewellery; the Casa Santo Domingo Hotel, which is a museum in itself that will take you back to colonial times; the Hill of the cross, from where you will have a panoramic view of the city and dozens of stores with impressive candles in different forms, figures and colours.

 

From Antigua, you can take advantage of the proximity to visit the famous Lago de Atitlán (lake) and to drink in the incredible natural surroundings, inhabited by Maya, who conserve their way of life, their typical dress and rituals to this day.  

 

Panajachel will be the gateway for arriving at the village of Lago Atitlán. A small cosmopolitan, bohemian village, where many hippies, arrivals from the 60s still live, along with its bars, live music and marketplaces.… 

 

In the morning catch a boat to take you to the villages of Santiago and San Juan la Laguna, walk their streets, learn the curious history of the May deity Maximón and, with luck, witness an indigenous wedding in one of their churches!

 

Return to Guatemala City to take an airplane to Panamá City.

 

This bustling city, replete with contrasts, will speak to you of its history, of a country before the arrival of the Spaniards and up through the construction of the Panama Canal.

Begin by visiting the Old Centre of Panama City, where, along narrow streets and colonial buildings, ruins and cobblestone streets, museums and ancient churches, there is a convergence of three style of construction: Spanish, French and Italian, resulting in an impressive architectural framework in which the French and neoclassical styles predominate.

 

 In 1846, the discovery of gold in California stimulated the economic development of Panama and led to the construction of the trans-isthmus railroad, which connected the two oceans for the first time, and the beginnings of construction of the French Canal.

 

So you can utilize “this history” and catch the trans-isthmus train for Colón from the capital, travelling alongside the Panama Canal you will thrill to the spectacular and impressive natural beauty of the country’s interior.

 

From Colón, less than an hour by automobile takes you to Portobelo, one of the most important points for the transfer of gold and silver during the colonial period, since it was selected by the Spanish Crown as the Centre of the Caribbean, due to its magnificent topographical and port conditions. It therefore became a flowering commercial city that was like a magnet for Pirates, and so, required the construction of several forts and castles for its defense. End your day by enjoying the dance of the Congo, brought from Africa in colonial times, responding to a manifestation of the slaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo