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Guatemala City is the country's capital and largest city. In fact, with a population of some three million, it's the largest city in Central America.
Guatemala City was founded as the country's third capital in 1776, following the destruction of two earlier attempts by natural disasters -- earthquakes and mudslides. Christened with the unwieldy name of La Nueva Guatemala de La Asunción de la Valle de la Ermita by Spain's King Charles III, it's most commonly known by its simple abbreviation, Guate. Long before the Spaniards moved their capital here, this was the site of the pre-Classic Maya city of Kaminaljuyú, whose ruins you can still visit. The city is set on a broad plateau at an elevation of 1,468m (4,897 ft.) above sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes on all sides.
Despite its well-deserved reputation as a violent and dangerous place, Guatemala City has a lot to offer travelers. The principal commercial and tourist zones are full of fine hotels and excellent restaurants, and the nightlife found in Zona Viva and Cuatro Grados Norte is the best in the country. The city also boasts theaters, art galleries, and several worthwhile museums.
With American Airlines flights to Guatemala City, you can plan a journey of discoveries in the capital of Guatemala. Formally known as La Neva Guatemala de la Asuncion, it's a city of charming contrasts. From appreciating its colonial architecture and museums to the modern Miguel Angel Asturias Cultural Center, there are many things to do in Guatemala City you'll enjoy.
Viewing the array of impressive architecture is one of the most fascinating activities in Guatemala City. Start with a visit to the Greater Plaza of the Constitution, located in the midst of the city's historic center. From here you'll be able to see the National Palace of Culture, featuring a mix of colonial architecture, neoclassical influences and French touches. Inside you'll find excellent examples of '40s Guatemalan art, including murals by Alfredo Galvez Suarez and stained glass by Julio Urruela Vasquez. From the Plaza you'll also be near the Metropolitan Cathedral, built between 1782 and 1815. It survived at least three major earthquakes over the years, preserving many treasures, such as the altars on either side of the aisle. Near the Plaza you can also see Centennial Park and the National Library, or Biblioteca Nacional. That's where many documents live that are vital to not only the country's history but also to that of Central America, including those dating back to 1524. You'll also want to visit the Museum of the Popol Vuh, whose collections include colonial and pre-Hispanic art.
After sampling the history of the city, it's time to move on to more contemporary things to do in Guatemala City. Don't miss visiting the Miguel Angel Asturias Cultural Center, sometimes referred to as the National Theater. Designed by Efrain Recinos, this cultural complex evokes a jungle cat in its forward-thinking architecture. It includes an opera venue, the Grand Theater, and open-air theater, workshops, plazas and even a museum.
There are many activities in Guatemala City worth discovering. For a true journey of interesting explorations, fly to Guatemala City with American Airlines. Browse our flights and start planning your trip here today!
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