Cultural walking tour Antigua

Theme: Art, Culinary, Religious, History

Activity organised by
approved guide


Do you want to know more about the colonial city of ANTIGUA , Guatemala ? A half day tour is the only way to do so ! 

Tour can start at 09 am and will be finished at about 12.30 pm 

Get yourself into the history , art and architecture !


  • Art
  • Culinary
  • Religious
  • History

Additional Information

A plethora of saints and statues in and around Antigua Guatemala


Let's start with God, the Father, at Antigua's cathedral, the colonial city that was the beating – and trembling – heart of this part of the world some 500 years ago. The Eternal Father takes the top spot on the façade, overlooking the central Plaza. He's grey and old of course. Nobody knows if He survived the 1773 quake but there He is. Also present is the Holy Spirit, almost unrecognizable, in the shape of a dove, la paloma blanca. You have to look very carefully to find him, preferably with some technical assistance or foreknowledge. Right underneath him in the same niche: the immaculate conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, because of the many pigeons on the plaza she herself isn't so immaculate these days. Post-conception she clearly is though. The Son is visible and invisible at the same time, so the entire Holy Trinity is depicted on the cathedral's façade. Flanking the Virgin are one third of the apostles. One holds a saw, another one an open book, just to make sure it's clear who's who.

Just before entering the cathedral we see the key figure par excellence, San Pedro/Saint Peter, in the lower left corner. A fairly traditional position, even though he has occupied the right corner as well throughout the centuries. It's a matter of power balance through position switches. His key has vanished and his head appears to have been restored in a recent past. Having to do without both his head and his key might have been a bit too much to cope with, even for a saint.


The church of Saint Francis is just a short walk away from the cathedral. Saint Francis is the founder of the order carrying his name. Above the entrance of this baroque church we see Mary and Jesus, now alive and kicking. From conception to fruition in a matter of minutes. One thing is identical though. This church is infested with pigeons too. There are a considerable number of statues of other saints. Mary clearly wasn't the only one who gave birth to one. Hermano – or Brother – Pedro, although being from Spanish decent, is the sole Guatemalan saint to date. Yet another Pedro/Peter. This fairly new saint travelled to the New World without his parents' permission, partly to escape an arranged marriage by his mother. The times, they are a-changin'.

The church is a testimony to the Catholic church's universal character, at least geographically. At the bottom, not exactly a place befitting a Frenchman, is Saint Louis. Louis from Toulouse is sporting France's mace and crown, on the right side of the entrance.


We must not disrespect Spain's glorious colonial past, so we cannot overlook the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. Its church, La Merced, is also just a short walk away in Antigua, a city small in size but housing a large number of churches and monasteries. Come to think of it, we walk the same streets as Saint Hermano Pedro frequently did at night, ringing his bell. But let's get back to La Merced, the yellow and white church with Our Lady of Mercy in the middle of its façade. She is surrounded by a number of statues, all of men. And yet again there is a Pedro/Peter. On top of the façade sits the statue of Pedro Nolasco, founder of the aforementioned order, at the time of the Arab occupation of a big part of Spain. He was an advocate of paying ransoms to free captured Christians. Centuries later, Spain set off and occupied the New World. Do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).


Lust but not least we take a look outside Antigua. We set off for the town of Ciudad Vieja, where the seven winged humans are neatly presented one next to another. Second row on the church's façade, please. Each angel comes with its signature attribute, all different of course, as it befits all virtuous humans with wings. There are no bad winged humans, they cannot stand the heat... Jegudiel sports a crown, as one has to be grateful, humble and small. Uriel holds a flame. Michael has a helmet, a shield and a sword, like his worldly counterpart. Gabriel is looking shyly and impatiently upwards to the ever-virgin Mary, as he has yet to tell her the name of her Son. It's one of those things one has to do when childless marriages are your department. Raphael holds a fish and Barachiel a pink bouquet. And finally, in the rightmost corner is the angel with the hideous name of Selaphiel, playing with fire. What a lovely sight it is, all these winged heavenly creatures, side by side.

One row down is the Holy family. They are all saints but they don't know it yet. There's grandfather Joachim of the yet to be born Son, hallowed be his name. The mere fact of sharing some genes is enough to be sanctified, even if those genes have been passed on through immaculate conception. Then there is Mary Magdalene (from the 80s hit by Sandra, Maria Magdalena) and Saint Anne, the grandmother. No idea what John the Baptist is doing there. Must have been a spur of inspiration from the builders.


Humans with wings, grandparents, an immaculate conception and a baptist. That's how you turn everything the average indigenous Indian cannot grasp into a breeding ground to protect and nurture one's own magical world. Up to this very day.



Patrick Vercoutere

Living and working in Guatemala

for over two decades

Certified cultural guide




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Guided Tour Details

Duration: 3 Hours
Language: English, Español, Nederlands
Suitable for Children:
Maximum number of participants: 6

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