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An Overview about a visit to the Guatemala City: By Francisco Grazioso

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Located in the middle of the country Guatemala, we find Guatemala city, known like the 4th capital city of Guatemala. From its foundation in 1524, the first capital was, Ixhimché, Ciudad Vieja and Antigua Guatemala. Located in the Valley of Our Lady of Asumption, we have Guatemala City; Guatemala comes from the mayan lenguague Coactemalán, that means place full of trees. But when conquers come to Guatemala, theY can´t pronounce Coactemalán and Guatemala remain.

We begin with mentioning Reforma Avenue, which is the financial district of Guatemala City. Here you can find banks, hotels and embassies. It is an avenue full of trees, the streets on Guatemala City has no names go by avenues and streets, and zones. From one side of Avenida Reforma is zone number 9 and the other one zone number 10 at the end of Reforma Avenue direction south we have the obelisk. On the Obelisk, begins Avenue of Americas, from one side of the street is zone 13 and the other side is zone 14, is known like Avenue of Americas because almost all countries of latinamerica has a monument on this Avenue. Colombia, Venezuela, Perú, the first monument was put in 1961 was Argentina. On the end of this avenue, we find the monument of John Paul the II by the Guatemalan artist Galeotti Torres made in 1997 in occasion of his 3th visit to Guatemala. The Germans want to put his monument too but it’s at the end of the avenue, in a place known like Berlin´s Square. On this place you will find 3 real pieces of the Berlin Wall and you will have an amazing view to the Pacaya Volcano. The Germans put his monument there because before the World War II, many Germans in north part of Guatemala, place known like Cobán harvest coffee. But for the Second World War the government of Jorge Ubico sends them back to Germany and only remains a few families there.

Reforma Avenue guatemala
Reforma Avenue Guatemala
We go back over Avenida de las Americas and Reforma Avenue North and we find the Botanic Garden of Guatemala, with 256 different kinds of trees and flowers which are part of the flora of Guatemala. We stop in the Chapel of Our lady of all sorrows, a Gothic church that has a history of Yurrita family. Here you can take pictures and take a view of the Church, on the top has a cross moved to the right side. In 1976 on 4th February a high intensity earthquake occurred, and the owners of the church remember that day the cross moved to the right side.

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We keep going in our tour and we can see, places such as Industrial Bank and the monument to the mayan ball game. The CHN and their walls representing a pre classic mayan time, the main Bank of Guatemala, City Hall, which from one side has representation of the Mayan culture and the other side Spanish side. The downtown of Guatemala city, has houses of the 40‘s and 50’s and if you want to do a modification inside or outside you have to ask permission to city hall. We see in 7th avenue zone 1 the Palace of the post office that has a big arch that divide the street with 5 arches upon the big one.

Now I am in the central park, looking the National Palace that has green color, build between 1939 to 1943. The coast of the palace was of 2 million dollars, has 5 floors, 1537 doors, and 731 watches Ericsson. It has all the architectonic styles inside, here you can find the kilometer 0 of the highways in Guatemala. Here and on the Post Office palace everything has to see with number 5, why? Because the president on that time, for some people a dictator for other people a hero, Jorge Ubico, was so egolatric his Name Jorge have 5 files and his lastname Ubico has 5 files. I move to the second oldest construction of Guatemala City the Cathedral in honor to Saint Joseph. I enter here and the floor seems to move because it’s not flat floor, it was made with church in the year 1781 all is original. This church has a organ inside, during the second world war, a Austrian company owned by Jewish people that make church organs. The factory made 30 organs but Adolf Hitler send to burn the factory and they only can sale 2 organs. One is on the cathedral of Neuremberg Germany and the other one is on the Cathedral of Guatemala City.

 central park guatemala

At few steps of the Cathedral there is the portal the first mall in Guatemala City. Here inside is el portalito, which is a bar and restaurant serving people since 1927. In this place you can drink the famous chibola, that is a mix between black beer and blond beer, and eat snacks. On this place you can also drink Fidel Castro and Che Guevara remember that Che Guevara lives on Guatemala City from 1952 to 1954.

I took my snack time and I go to the hill of Carmel, this is the first construction in Guatemala city and is a Church upon a small hill. John Cors by request of Saint Therese of Avila brings to Guatemala Our Lady of Carmel, a small one, in 1665 and build a church made with a material known like straw. And the church was burned, but the Image of Our Lady of Carmel was safe. After that they build a regular church like we know today. You can have an amazing view from this place of all Guatemala City. The street to reach this place is made of cobblestone, and has a big cross such as 25 meters, about 65 feet of tall from where you can see the whole Guatemala City.

hill of Carmel,
Hill of Carmel
Then I drove to Simeón Cañas avenue which a wide avenue with big sidewalks, and I reach the Relief Map. This is a Map that has all Guatemala settled on the ground, made with 3,500 bricks. It took over 11 years for constructing it. In 1885 Justo Rufino Barrios former president of Guatemala, sent two guys to walk the whole country for see how Guatemala was. This took 5 years to make the drawing and the measures of the country. They invent the theodolite, which is an instrument to take measures of distances and on August 31th of 1905 it was open to the people. In 1999 the Nasa came over to see the average of the map was 99.9. This map has volcanos, mountains, and two oceans. Price of the ticket is 4 US Dollars per foreigner visitor.

Relief Map
Relief Map
Then I drive over El Periferico and take a look of the beer factory by outside and I see at the other side of the main entrance the Church of Santa Delfina de Signe which owned by the owners of the beer factory.

Church of Santa Delfina de Signe
Church of Santa Delfina de Signe
 This private Catholic Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Guatemala City and I recommend visit by outside, taking pictures is not permitted here. If you want to visit inside mass time is Sundays at 8’o clock am and 11.30 for public.

Then I arrive to the downtown of Guatemala City and I stop there for lunch at El Adobo Restaurant. I really recommend this place to eat a real Guatemalan food. I order a soup known like pepian, it is made with Guatemalan spices such as sweet chillies, and other Guatemalan spices with white rice and tortillas. For drinking I order a Horchata known like rice water, because this beverage is made with the water of the rice, vanilla and also some milk. The Mexicans do the same rice water but they add in it Horchata toasted peanuts. I finish my lunch and I drive to the south of the city to the National Museum Of Antropology And History. If you are foreigner you must pay a ticket of 7 dollars. I see there Mayan stellas of all periods, rings of the ball games found in Mayan places in Guatemala, a grave of a mayan emperator in Blue River Guatemala. You will also find here different Mayan costumes, which are different in whole country, also some recreations of Tikal and other Mayan cities. After that I visit to museum and go to the only Mayan place in Guatemala City known like Kaminal Juyu or the Death Hill on English language. This was used to be a Mayan transit place, not ceremonial. If you are lucky like me you can see a Mayan ceremony inside the park, known like syncretism. This is the mixture among catholic believes and Mayan traditions. The Mayans always set a circle on the sand, of sugar or salt, petal of roses, water of roses, and candles of different colors depends of the intention that you want to ask to the earth wind and fire, for example:

* RED CANDLE MEANS LOVE
* BLUE CANDLE MEANS BUSINESS
* GREEN CANDLE MEANS MONEY
* YELLOW CANDLE HEALTH FOR THE CHILDREN
* WHITE CANDLE HEALTH FOR YOURSELF
*LIGHT BLUE CANDLE FOR A RELATIVE OF YOU GO OUT FREE FROM JAIL
* PURPLE CANDLE, FOR A RELATIVE OF YOU STOP TO GET DRUNK.

Kaminal Juyu guatemala
Kaminal Juyu
This is part of syncretism that you will find in this place!



We finish the tour in the west side of Guatemala City in a big mall not regular mall called Paseo Cayala. There is even a catholic church inside the mall. Is many restaurants around if you like Italian food we recommend Tre Fratelli, if you like Mexican food La Cantina, if you like hamburgers, there are many restaurants of various kind of foods. Moreover, you can also bring your children to enjoying on this place.

Paseo Cayala
Paseo Cayala
If you are coffee lover we recommend in the downtown Café León. This is a coffee shop at old downtown stile where you can enjoy many kind of coffees, with a very good taste, we recommend the coffee two milks, it is one of the best on the town.

francisco guatemala

* Guest blog, posted by:  Francisco Grazioso
                                            *(General Manager)
                                                    (Toscana Tours Guatemala)

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