Antigua Guatemala means “Ancient Guatemala” and was the third capital of Guatemala.
The first capital of Guatemala was founded on the site of a Mayan city on 1524, and after several uprisings, the capital was moved to a more suitable site in the Valley of Almolonga on 1527, and kept its original name.
This city was destroyed on 11th September 1541 by a devastating water avalanche from the Volcano de Agua when a crack caused by an earthquake released the water in the volcano. As a result, the colonial authorities decided to move the capital once more, this time five miles away to the Panchoy Valley. So, on 1543 the Spanish conquistadors founded present-day Antigua. For more than 200 years it served as the seat of the military governor of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, a large region that included almost all of present-day Central America and the southernmost State of Mexico: Chiapas.
On 29th September 1717, an estimated 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Antigua Guatemala, and destroyed over 3,000 buildings. Much of the city’s architecture was ruined. The damage the earthquake did to the city made authorities consider moving the capital to another city.
In 1773, the Santa Marta earthquakes destroyed much of the town, which led to the third change in location for the city. The Spanish Crown ordered (1776) the removal of the capital to a safer location, the Valley of the Shrine, where Guatemala City, the modern capital of Guatemala, now stands.
The remnants of its Spanish colonial architecture have been preserved as a national monument.
Antigua landscape is surrounded by 3 volcanos with Pacaya being active with displays of eruptions and lava flow.
Lake Atitlan is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption thousands of years ago. Three volcanoes lays in the southern part of the lake with volcano Atitlan still active.
The lake basin supports extensive coffee growth and a variety of farm crops, most notably corn. Other significant agricultural products include onions, beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, green chilies, strawberries, avocados and papaya fruit and is surrounded by many villages, in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn.
While Maya culture is predominant in most lakeside communities, the largest town on the shores, Panajachel, and the town’s economy is almost entirely reliant on tourism.
The lake had a variety of native fish that supplemented the villages food supply and in 1958 at the suggestion of Pan-Am airlines, black bass was introduced into the lake to attract tourism on sport fishing.
The bass quickly took to its new home and began eating the native inhabitants of the lake. The predatory bass caused the elimination of more than two-thirds of the native fish species in the lake and contributed to the extinction of the Atitlan Grebe, a rare bird that lived only around the Lake Atitlan region.
Most of the 13 villages around Lake Atitlan have no sewage treatment processes and all is emptied directly into the lake.