Dos Lunas Bed & Breakfast

Address: 21 Calle 10-92 zona 13 Aurora II    Reservation Line: +(502) 2261-4248

Guatemala city

Guatemala City Introduction

Written by Lorena Bleker
Revised by Dr. Mike Reed and Jennifer Hernández

Dear Guest:

Welcome to Guatemala and its capital, Guatemala City; officially named “La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción” but affectionately known as “Guate” to Guatemalans.  We would like to share with you some background about our city and offer suggestions of places to enjoy during your stay in the capital.

Guatemala City is the largest and most culturally diverse city in Central America.  It sits atop a broad plateau in the Guatemalan Highlands at the favorable altitude of 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) at the crossroads of the ancient trade routes between the cool highlands and the warm lowlands to the north and south. Dense occupation of the plateau extends back to the period between 400 and 600 BC when the Maya city of Kaminaljuyú became the most important trading and ceremonial center of the Central American Highlands.  

Following the Spanish conquest of Guatemala by Pedro de Alvarado, the capital of the colonial Kingdom of Guatemala, was relocated two times prior to settling on its present location.  The first site for the capital, Iximché, founded in 1524 was chosen for its defensive location but proved inconvenient in other ways, like conflicts with the natives, and was not declared capital of the Kingdom by the Spanish crown, like the last three capitals.

In 1527, a site for the capital was chosen in the broad Almolonga Valley at the base of the Volcán de Agua where the town of Ciudad Vieja sits today but in 1541, an earthquake released a torrent of water down the volcano’s slopes, wiping out the capital, which was then, relocated to the center of the nearby Panchoy Valley in 1543.  The beautiful city of “Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala”, today called Antigua, remained the colonial capital of Central America until it was leveled by a series of powerful earthquakes in 1773 prompting the Spanish to once again relocate the capital in 1778 to where it remains today. Independence from Spain was achieved in 1821.


Photo by Alejandro Esquité

The transformation of Guatemala into a modern state is a process that is still taking place. Spanish colonial rule was replaced by institutions favoring the powerful landowning class. Guatemala City underwent a renaissance during this period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was known as the “silver cup” for its tidiness and elegance.  Immigrants from Europe and North America brought new ideas, practices and styles into the Guatemalan economy and urban society.                          

Photo by Alejandro Esquité

The people of Guatemala City benefited from its position as a center of industry, investment, commerce, education and intellectual exchange.

In the 1960s and ‘70s Guatemala’s fortunes suffered serious setbacks from internal conflicts that deteriorated into a civil war that lasted 36 years and left more than 200,000 deads; and a major earthquake in 1976 that devastated a large area and caused 25,000 deaths.  Guatemala City suffered serious damage to many older and poorly built buildings.  Many lessons were learned from those terrible events, like switching from tile to aluminum roofs for earthquake safety and a commitment to maintaining democratic governments and respect for human rights following the Peace Accords of 1996 that ended the civil war.    

Although positive changes resulted from the time of conflict, we still face problems and challenges like those faced by people in many countries around the world.  The Guatemala City of the 21st century is a modern capital, with the most active economy in Central America.

Photo by Alejandro Esquité

Foreign travelers to any country should make sure they are aware of unsafe situations and places to avoid. Robberies of tourists do sometimes occur in our capital, but we want you to know that Guatemala gives priority to the security and well-being of our foreign visitors along the country’s touristic routes and destinations.   

You will hear negative stories of robbery passed along traveler’s networks evolve in many ways that can undermine visitors’ sense of safety rather than stimulate discussions on ways to travel safely.  Statistics show that foreign visitors are less likely to be sought out for robberies and other crimes.  Common-sense measures for safety should always be followed anywhere in the world, as incidents may happen.

Visitors to Guatemala overwhelmingly speak of the warmth and character of the Guatemalan people – across all cultures and levels of our society.  They find Guatemalans to be among the most hospitable, friendly, kind and helpful people they have encountered in their travels.  This is true in Guatemala City as well as throughout the country.  It is a major reason why so many visitors show so much enthusiasm while sharing stories of their experiences traveling in Guatemala and why so many of them make return trips. 

The capital is a multicultural and multi ethnic city, so the culture is not just in our pre-Hispanic and colonial heritage. The melting pot of races, traditions, walks of life and political view, spice up the daily life of this city.

In this Guide to Guatemala City, we will include a suggested itinerary for unique and interesting place to visit in our capital. You will find a list of museums, restaurants that offer local dishes, archaeological sites within the city, airport information, and important things to know about travelling in Guatemala. 

We are proud of our pre-hispanic and colonial heritage, as well as our modern city. We are happy to have you visit our country and we hope you will include Guatemala City in your future travel plans.

Welcome to Guatemala City!


La Aurora International Airport Arriving

ARRIVING TO GUATEMALA CITY AIRPORT

If you are flying to Guatemala, there are some aspects you should consider making your arrival easier and smoother.

In flight the cabin crew will give you a form that you need to fill, and hand it over at immigration.

 IMMIGRATION:

Once you reach immigration, your passport will be stamped for admission, and the stamp will state the amount of days you can stay, according to your country     of origin, North America, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, for example, will have a 90 days visa to visit the country.

If you need to know how to extend your stay, or pay for overstay, please see our section of Immigration and passports

Once you go through immigration, you will reach the baggage belt if you have checked in luggage, and later to customs, right before the exit lobby. There is one machine right near the last luggage carrousel where you can pay USD2.00 for renting a cart.

Prior to the exit door on arrivals, you will find the tourist information desk, car rentals, taxis and shuttle offices. There are two exit doors, left and right.  Airport parking is right in front.

Make sure you have your pickup service organized and arranged a meeting point, because depending on the arrival time, the arrivals hall can be very busy and overwhelming, so it can be difficult to find your hosts.

SERVICES AVAILABLE ON ARRIVALS

ATM:

There is only one atm before the immigration line, on the left side.  It is a 5B.  All ATMs charge approx. USD5.00 per transaction.  The max amount per day allowed to pull out of the atm is Q2000.00

Mastercard and visa is accepted on these ATMs, but maestro card is not.  If you have maestro card, only the BAC ATM (banc of America Central) will accept that card.  

MONEY EXCHANGE: there are world exchange kiosks on arrival, prior immigration and after immigration, despite of the deals they offer to the passengers, the exchange rate does not make much difference.  Always, before arrival, check the official exchange rate with the banks and the rate of these money exchange kiosks.  www.Globalexchange.com

Pros:  they change all kind of international currencies, they are open at the airport 24/7

Cons:  exchange rate is lower compared to the official rate.

BANKS:  there are no banks on arrivals where you can change USD or Euros. If you see a Banrural agency, that bank is not exchanging currency.  Indeed, none of their banks change money to tourists, unless you have an account with them.

PUBLIC TELEPHONES:  there are no public telephones available on arrivals, neither on departures, only outside on the street, it may be dangerous if you are with luggage there in the middle of the night, plus you need local coins.

INTERNET:  free airport Wi-fi is available on departures, but not on arrivals. Although there is one internet access option without password, they seem to belong to one car rental.

LOCAL INTERNET AND MOBIL PHONE COMPANIES:   There is an improvised kiosk on arrivals where you can buy a local sim card, make sure your telephone is unlocked, specially the iPhone. Tigo has more wide coverage, and if sim card tuenti is available, they have great deals with internet and calls.  The kiosk is not open for the late evening flights.

LUGGAGE CART:  They are available next to the last the luggage carrousel and cost USD2.00. So, if you need one, bring USD1.00 bills in good shape.

TAXIS

Before the exit door on arrivals there is a stand that belong to the airport taxis, you can pay for your service there.  Normally to the hotel areas, they charge USD10.00 for the ride; airport taxis zone 13 are authorized taxis.  You can also call uber if you have internet access.

TOURIST INFORMATION DESK

The INGUAT is the official tourist board of Guatemala, they are not always open but if so, they can give you maps and brochures for different destinations and services and can help you to make a call to your hotel. 

CAMTUR (chamber of Tourism) has a hospitality desk on arrivals hall.  The hosts of these two organizations are not always behind desk ready to give you tourist information or assistance, especially during the evening flights.

MISSING LUGGAGE:  you need to fill a report with the airline, make sure you leave telephone and address where you can be reached and, request a direct phone no. of the baggage department of the airline at la aurora airport.  Most of airlines, specially the US airlines, will deliver your luggage to your hotel.

AIRPORT SHUTTLES: Most of the 4- and 5-star hotels, and hostels and bed and breakfasts located near airport, offer free airport shuttle. Check their schedules as not all of them offer 24-hour service.The airport shuttles of these big hotels are normally waiting for passengers outside the arrival’s hall on the left side.  The tourist shuttle to Antigua and the airport taxis are located on the right side.

WE RECOMMEND

  1. Always check if you leave the airport with your passport and with the address where you go,
  2. Contact the airline if you left something on the plane. The airport has a lost and found office.
  3. Passport must be valid at least 6 months
  4. Many airlines will not let you board with one-way ticket, keep that in mind.

Welcome to Guatemala!


La Aurora International Airport Departure

Departing from Guatemala City Airport

The process for airport check in is very simple, and most airline staff are friendly and helpful.  UNITED AIRLINES have one of the most service minded, and efficient staff and their website is the best for selecting your seats, checking availability and flight information.  If you fly with low cost airlines, check with them before going to the airport if you must pay for printing the boarding pass at the airport.

DEPARTURE TAX:  Your airline ticket already included all taxes. No airline or airport staff is authorized to request any payment from you.

CHECK IN:  Be at the airport, at least 2 hrs. before departures.  Most of counters are closed for check in, one hour before flights.  The immigration and security process may be slow.

Photo by Henk Bleker

AIRLINES OPERATING AT LA AURORA AIRPORT

There are 10 international airlines and one local airline operating at La Aurora Airport: 

INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES:

Local airline

Photo by Alejandro Esquité

When you are checking in and getting your boarding pass…The airline will give you a form that you will also have to give to the immigration officer for your departure control. Make sure you have good sight or bring your glasses or a magnifier, you will need it for this form.  Keep in mind that if you don’t have this form ready when it is your turn for passport control, they will send you back to the line.  Each person must fill the form, some people will tell you that one form per family is enough, but the criteria and information from the immigration officers is inconsistent, so to be safe, fill up one form per person.

Photo by Alejandro Esquité

 RESTAURANTS:
Above the airline counters, there is a food court. Although if you have limited time, go straight through security and immigration.  After immigration, toward the departure gates, you will find all kind of restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a cup of coffee without being stressed.  Services are open from 4 am. The average price for a decent cup of coffee is Q25.00

Some of the restaurants available near the boarding gates

  • MACDONALS
  • PIZZA HUTT
  • SUBWAY
  • CAFÉ BARISTA
Photo by Alejandro Esquité

If you have a domestic flight to Flores, there is only one café (café gitano) before heading toward the boarding gate.  Not many options really, so be prepared with your own bites.  The two airlines operating Flores serve a simple snack on board, but also the flight is short.  (approx. 1 hr.)

Domestic airlines -destination Flores:

  • Avianca:  www.avianca.com  (operates an ATR, turbo prop. 48 Pax) 2 flights a day.
  • Tag: www.tag.com.gt  (Operates, ATR, Jetstream, Saab) 2 to 3 flights a day. (depending on the season)

AIRPORT LOUNGE:  Zacapa Rum lounge is one of the best at the airport. Located near the boarding gates, some airlines use this lounge for their business class passengers.

https://www.loungeclub.com/en/our-lounges/lounge-detail/GUA2

Photo by Wolfgang, Germany.

DUTY FREE:

Souvenir shops for handicrafts, Zacapa Rum and export quality Guatemalan Coffee are available on the duty-free area, near the boarding gates.   If you buy coffee before going to the airport, pack your coffee in checked in luggage instead of hand luggage.

The award-winning Rum, considered the best rum in the world, is one of the favorite products the tourist like to purchase. Avoid buying the rum in duty free if you have a connecting flight in the US or Europe and if you need to go through security control there.   Alternative you can buy your Zacapa Rum in Villa de los Añejos, in zone 10 Guatemala City   near the Westin Hotel. They have similar prices to duty free and the liter option is available among other fine rums from the Botrán House.

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Important information

AIRPORT ENTRANCE:

Upon entry to the departure area, Security staff will request you to show your passport.  Failure in showing the passport. They will not let you in if you don’t have your passport.  Airport is not open 24 hrs. you are not allowed to wait or spend the night inside the airport if you have an early flight or a very late arrival.

There is only one place to buy drinks and snacks outside departures: CAFÉ TUCAN. They have Wi-Fi available for customers.

PARKING:  Airport parking cost Q20.00.

To get to the parking from departures level, follow the side road on the left before getting into the airport entrance, and will lead you to the parking near departures. This road begins behind CAFÉ TUCAN.  In that parking there is also the car rental drop off parking. This is the closest parking for departures entrance.

ATM: There is one 5B ATM at the entrance of the airport, hidden behind the money exchange kiosk.

MONEY EXCHANGE:  global exchange kiosk is also available for all kind of currencies.

BANK:  There is only one bank on departures, (Banrural) they will not change any currency. That bank may be useful for you if you need to buy your entrance ticket to Tikal Park or if you need to pay the fine for your overstay.  Banrural is open from 6 am though.

LUGGAGE STORAGE:  This service not available at the airport.

WAITING AREA: There is no place to wait before the time you check in. the airport does not have 24 hrs. service, so you are not allowed spend the night at the airport.

INTERNET:

Free airport Wi-fi, only available in departures and near the Boarding gates.

GOING TO AIRPORT LA AURORA:

Rush hour:  Take your precautions and avoid Guatemala City rush hour. You don’t want to miss your flight.  If you have Wi-Fi get the app Waze for checking traffic.

Rush hour AM:

From 6am to 9 am from Monday to Friday. Direction west to east and south to north,

Rush hour PM:

From 4 pm to 8 pm.  From east to west and from north to south.

If you stay in the city this is the average time you will take to go to the airport from your hotel and vice-versa, (and when it is not rush hour):

  • Zone 1 and 2:  35 to 40 minutes approx.  
  • Zone 4:  20 to 25 min.
  • Zone 9 and 10:  15 to 20 minutes.
  • Zone 13, Aurora I and Aurora II.  From 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Zone 13, Americas:  10 minutes
  • Zone 14.  15 minutes
  • Zone 15 and 16:  25 to 35 minutes.

FROM ANTIGUA:  due to traffic, count a min. of 1 ½ hr. from Antigua, assuming you go straight to airport.

FROM PANAJACHEL: Consider at least 4 hours to get to the city if you don’t stop in Antigua.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO AIRPORT:  at this moment we are not able to recommend any reliable and safe public transportation to airport.   The Trans metro (green buses) is the best system but unfortunately, they don’t cover the airport route.  We absolutely do not recommend the use of the red buses, they are extremely unsafe and Transurbano bus is not intended for one-time event, you need to buy a bus card. (not practical)

AIRPORT SHUTTLES: Most of the 4- and 5-star hotel from zone 10, and hostels/bed and breakfasts located near airport, offer free airport shuttle. Check their schedules as not all of them offer 24-hour service.

TAXI:  Uber is the cheapest option if you have access to request this service.  Make sure you provide the exact address where you are located, especially if you are in gated areas.

The Yellow taxis run by meter, but it is complicated to get their    services, you need to call them, provide a telephone number, address, etc.  and they offer the service with a min. waiting time of 15 min. The good news is that you can book them in advance and they accept credit cards, USD and local currency as form of payment. Tel. 2332-1515 (Spanish only) Service is reliable.

Photo by Alejandro Esquité

HAVE A SAFE FLIGHT!


A Day in Guatemala City

By Claudia Wood, Canada.
Photos:  Claudia Wood.

Day in Guatemala city

Guatemala City – this is NOT to be missed. People talk about how unsafe Guatemala City is but really enjoyed it and never felt unsafe. But there are so many beautiful and interesting things to see. If you worry about visiting there, hire a guide. Believe me, it will be worth it! We hired Fabio Saenz with Authentic Guatemala. He was reasonable, very knowledgeable and an excellent driver. His English is excellent, and he will customize your tour to see the places you want to see as well as a few of his own. You can contact him by email or phone and will find him reliable in getting back to you with suggestions. His email is Fabio@authenticguatemala.com and his phone number is +502 4715-9095. His webpage: www.authenticguatemala.com.

Here is a summary of what we saw while visiting, along with my personal take on the experience. Just to put things in perspective, we toured on the day of the big march in January 2019. It was interesting to experience the historical area under extreme police presence – it was probably the safest place in Guatemala that day!

Day One

On our arrival day we had enough time to visit a few places on our own. We had the hotel’s driver drop us off and pick us up, because yes, we were a bit nervous to be on our own. We needn’t have been – we felt totally safe in the places we visited.

Our first stop was the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum was worth the trip. It has an amazing collection of artefacts and stelae from back as far as 800BC. There is a huge scale model of Tikal which is good thing to see before you visit there. The carved stelae are huge and in amazing condition. Everything is housed in a very cool-looking building. The displays are very nicely done and there is lots of English!

On the same site there are two other places to visit, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Natural History Museum. We skipped the latter as it was all in Spanish and ours is very limited. The National Gallery of Modern Art has a beautiful collection of art, some very stunning work. Definitely worth an hour of your time if you like art!

We had agreed to meet our driver at the Artisans Market just down the block from the museums, so we wandered down the road, about a block walk. I expected a market like those we have seen in the past, cluttered and noisy and not very clean, but it was more like a bunch of tiny stores and there was almost no one there. Each seller had their own small booth, although many of the items repeated themselves over and over and many, I suspect were massed produced in China. Loved all the bright colours. Unless you are shopping for something, you can see this in a half hour or so.

Across the street from here is the Zoo. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time but on a full day, this could easily be added in. We found this whole area very safe-feeling and wouldn’t hesitate to visit all of these spots on our own.

Day in Guatemala city

Day Two

Started our day with a traditional breakfast of eggs, beans, fried plantains and coffee (most important as after not having any on our flight I was feeling caffeine deprived!). Our guide, Fabio arrived right on time and we headed out to tour Guatemala City. This is something not undertaken by many tourists. Whether it is a fear based on past history of it being an unsafe place or a lack of interest, it just isn’t a hot spot on the tourist trail. Wow – so many people are so wrong! We could have spent two or three days here.

Guatemala City is huge with over four million people. It grew outwards like a snail from its original centre and sprawls for miles and miles. It is divided into “zones” and is relatively flat in the centre but surrounded by hills. Traffic isn’t nearly as bad as some large cities and cars are relatively new, mostly Japanese and Korean with few US built cars as parts are expensive. There are lots of buses of varying quality…red chicken buses, blue commuter buses and green ones that travel only in certain areas but are much more modern. The city is relatively clean and has a lot of green spaces, parks and playgrounds. It is a mix of old colonial structures and in the touristy zone, modern hotels and not so high high-rises. Nothing over ten stories due to the earthquake risks.

Our first stop was at the National Theatre, which in its heyday must have been beautiful. We just saw the outside, but it opens regularly to host theatre, opera, symphony, ballet and other performances on a regular basis. Hard to tell what the inside is like, but the outside looked a little neglected and the building itself was impressive. It was designed by architect Efraín Recinos whose name we saw several places in the country.

On the same grounds we visited the Military Museum and the original San Jose Fort. Inside the fort was a historical presentation of Guatemala through its many years of war. Outside on the roof, between the canons, the view was impressive in all directions. We got an idea of how big this city is! Off in the distance below, we could hear sounds of the protestors outside a government building.

Our day was somewhat modified from its original plan due to some road closures and building closures. We weren’t sure what to expect. Our guide drove with a traffic app open on his phone, searching out the best routes to avoid traffic so he could get us to the sites we wanted to see.

A short drive from the Cultural Centre was the Guatemala Relief Map. This spot was quite amazing. It took 16 years for an engineering team to travel the country to amass the geological information and then another year to build it. And all of this was done in 1905! It is about 60 meters across in each direction (my guesstimate), built to a scale of 1:10000 with elevations built 1:2000…so it is BIG! It was an interesting to plot out our route.

After the relief map, we headed to the downtown historical area.

Guatemala, like many Central American countries has been a country in constant civil unrest for what seems forever. They have been relatively “at peace” since 1996 when the civil war ended. But poverty and inequalities are still very much a part of life here, corruption is rampant, and the natives seem to be growing hostile. In oversimplified terms, the UN sent in a commission to investigate corruption at high levels of government. Recently, the government ordered them to leave the country. The locals are protesting this, saying the government hasn’t the right to do so. The government is saying the commission overstepped its boundaries and became involved in areas they weren’t supposed to be touching and so has ordered them out. This week, there are protests and blockades around the country with a large protest march in Guatemala City today.

We parked nearby the historical centre and walked to the central plaza. Because this area is home to many government buildings, security was unbelievable. It would have been a good day to rob a bank somewhere else in the city because it seemed every available police officer was guarding an entrance to a building or blocking a street. There were thousands of them, including traffic police, regular police and riot squads!

Around the Presidential Palace, which is now a cultural centre, the police stood shoulder to shoulder, guarding every entrance. This building covers a very large square block so a LOT of police! The building sits on one side of the large Central Parque, where there was a very small group of noisy but peaceful protestors, but mostly just families and sellers.

Day in Guatemala city

Our guide, Fabio, took us inside a couple of buildings that used to be private residences but have since become government offices. One was the office of the electoral commission, which is gearing up as an election will be announced this week. Tomorrow is the installation of a new president who was elected last July and the official announcement of the new election that will take place in July. Today the outgoing president gave his year end report and exit speech – likely another reason for the timing of the protests. At any rate, the house was beautiful, inside and out… neocolonial architecture with terrazzo floors, murals on the walls and ceilings, a lovely central courtyard. What were once bedrooms and bathrooms around the courtyard are now offices. The dining room is now the media room.

Our next stop was to be the Central Market but as we neared it, we could hear the voices of the protestor march. We watched for a bit, impressed by the number of people marching, then headed down into the market. Fabio stopped us at a food stand, one of the oldest and most popular around, run by the same family for over 60 years. We sampled a few things…chili rellenos, tostadas and then the woman gave us each a small pastry stuffed with the most delicious sweet filling. It was enough of a light lunch to get us through the afternoon. The market was remarkably clean, even throughout the wet market areas. Lots of souvenirs but for us, not yet!

From the market we wandered down Piñata Street – every store had huge piñatas hanging outside. Who knew there could be so much demand for them! Roads around the national building where the president was giving his speech were blocked off so we took a roundabout route to a few more stops, including the old post office, which is now an arts school and a street archway that is a copy of a famous one in Antigua that we will see later in our trip.

Day in Guatemala city

We visited a few big churches, including Iglesia San Francisco, which was stunning, a couple others whose names I have already forgotten!

We took a green bus back to the Central Parque area and while my husband and I visited the Metropolitan Cathedral, Fabio went to retrieve the car. The cathedral was beautiful. People were lined up to see the black Jesus, which is a big thing in Guatemala. Many of the items in the church were brought from Antigua when the capital was moved. The pews went on forever. They would need a good sound system to hear the priest. Lots of locals inside.

It had been a long day and a lot of walking, so it was nice to sit in the car! And we weren’t done yet! We drove to see Iglesia La Merced, but it was closed today due to renovations. We did get to Cerrito del Carmen (church on the little hill). It was built originally in 1620 and then rebuilt after one of the big earthquakes. I have read that it used to be a spot for drug deals and criminal activity, but it is now a park area where locals gather to run, exercise and play games. The church is small, but the view is BIG!

Our final stop was a treat! Fabio took us for a traditional Guatemalan hot dog! There is neighborhood that specializes in these with several shops all along the same street. As you drive by, they try to wave you in. He took us to his favorite, in a small cafe where you could watch the owner as he prepared your hotdog…grilled bun, lettuce, mustard, guacamole, onions and chopped smoked sausage…tasty indeed!

We drove home through the more modern areas, down a beautiful treed and grassy boulevard, Avenida la Reforma. It was designed after the Champs Élysées. Then we travelled the Avenue of the Americas which had plazas every few blocks representing all the Latin America countries.

Day in Guatemala city

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KAMINALJUYU Archaeological Park

The hero twins ®hoteldoslunas

KAMINALJUYU ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK IN GUATEMALA CITY

Written by Lorena Bleker, with contribution of Dr. Mike Reed
Revised by Dr. Hector Escobedo

The archaeological site Kaminaljuyú, which means “Cerro de los Muertos” or “Hill of the Dead”, was the most important pre-Hispanic Maya city of the Guatemalan Central Highlands and it is located at the heart of Guatemala City.  Kaminaljuyu hosted more than 200 mounds and 13 ball game courts, scattered over an area of 5 square km around the extinct Miraflores Lagoon, which was located where the Tikal Futura Hotel lies today in zone 11.

Kaminaljuyu was built on a plain and fertile valley with abundant rivers surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. A walk through the site reveals extensive plazas with large mounds, representing the remains of platforms, pyramids and ball game courts. The ball game was a ritual sport of religious significance played by the city’s elite ruler class.

Archaeological excavations at the site have revealed an impressive collection of cultural materials including ceramics vessels decorated with sea shells, carved basalt and sandstone stelae and zoomorphic sculptures of the Late Preclassic Period (400 BC-200 AD), recording important events that took place in the political, social and economic life of Kaminaljuyu.

Zoomorphic monuments and sculptures, carved with iconographic elements embedded with strong spiritual meaning, represent important achievements in art and esthetic. During the Early Classic Period (200-600 AD), Kaminaljuyu had strong commercial and political ties with the powerful metropolis of Teotihuacan in Central Mexico, according to archaeological evidence found at the site. Unfortunately, during the last five decades about 90% of the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu was destroyed by the urban growth of modern Guatemala.

The Archaeological Park contains the surviving structures of the city’s central core which has been completely enclosed by modern constructions. There is also a small museum at the park. Collections of carved monuments and ceramics from Kaminaljuyu are on display at the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology located in Zone 13, as well as at Popol Vuh Museum in Zone 10. In addition, the small but impressive Miraflores Museum, located near the Tikal Futura Hotel, on Roosevelt Boulevard, just a few blocks from the Kaminaljuyu Archaeological Park, displays the skeletal remains of three individuals, jade ornaments, obsidian artifacts and pottery offering vessels found at the tomb of a Maya noble, recreated inside of a preserved ancient mound that can be reached through an underground tunnel. A transparent floor allows the visitor to peer at the the tomb underlying directly beneath their feet. Unfortunately, the Museo Miraflores is currently temporarily closed for renovations.

Photos courtesy of http://mcd.gob.gt

SITIO ARQUEOLOGICO DE KAMINALJUYU

Location: Calzada San Juan 30 avenida zona 7, Guatemala, Ciudad.
Business hours: 8:00 – 16:00 (Mon-Sun)
Admission:
Local visitors: Q. 5.00
Foreign visitors: Q. 50.00

Website: http://mcd.gob.gt/kaminal-juyu/ (available only in Spanish)