Sunday, April 18, 2010

Antigua's Architecture

MARCH 18, 2010

The best way to describe the buildings in present-day Antigua, is to liken the colonial city to an open air architectural museum.

Although so much was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1773, there are plenty of remaining structures which have either been fully restored to a state where they are currently inhabited, or they have been preserved as ruins.


I pass by these ruins, San Jose el Viejo, usually at least twice per day:

You would probably would never realize it from the outside, but they are one of the most sought-after locations for events in Antigua, the destination wedding capital of Central America. One day while they were setting up for an event, I took advantage of this rare opportunity and I walked in to photograph the interior:

I think you would agree that being able to attend an event in 400 hundred year old ruins would be a pretty special experience:

Here they are at night with atmospheric decorations and lighting:

Everywhere you turn in Antigua there are beautiful ruins; these ones, Santa Clara ruins, are on the outskirts of town and often have big concerts in front of them:

During the weekends, a crafts market takes place in front of the El Carmen ruins:

Here is a close up – notice the flowers growing right through:

Columns and the arches they connect to play a big part of the colonial architectural style:

Here are some column details:


At the peak of the Spanish colonization, Antigua (which is only 10 x 10 square blocks) had over 50 churches. Here are a few of my favorites; the first one, La Merced Church, I shot from a restaurant rooftop:

Here is San Pedro Church at dusk:

Here a man is locking up one of the two entrances to San Francisco el Grande Church:

And here, on the south side of town, is El Calvario Church:


Elaborate and intricate designs are found on doorways, doors and door details. Here are a few examples around town:

This doorway is good for napping:

This one wins the award for most creative entry – a stepping stone course in a pond will bring you to your front door!

Gorgeous hand-carved wooden detail on door leading into La Merced church (yellow one above):

Doors are ornamented with beautiful knockers and handles:


One of my favorite features of colonial style architecture are the interior courtyards; for all kinds of stunning things are hidden away inside, like fountains and flora:

Here is my all time favorite in town, the colossal fountain at the La Merced church:


  1. Beautiful photo documentation of the architecture!

  2. stunning and you are very talented photographer too