If you are looking for an original opportunity to immerse yourself into another culture, Antigua is it. Not only can the city boast about its landmark churches and cathedrals, such as the Cathedral de Santiago, La Merced, Arco de Santa Catalina, or the Church de San Francisco (which have all been rebuilt over 17 times due to earthquakes since the sixteenth century), but it is also home to the beautiful Plaza (Parque Central) which holds outdoor markets and is famous for the processionals that pass through the Plaza during Easter. It was here that I found the old fashioned horse and buggy that I used in my bridal shoot with Diego and Maria. You can pay just a few dollars to ride around the Central Park and most famous landmarks of the city. Once you’ve satisfied your historical itch, the Acatenango Volcano can supply you with some of the best hiking in all of Central America. You will definitely work up an appetite after this excursion, so make sure to visit the Choco Museo afterwards (a museum devoted entirely to chocolate). Also, make your time in Antigua even more enjoyable by booking a room in one of the many breath-taking hotels that artfully weave the wonder of the city’s history with modern day luxury—such as Hotel Cirilo, Quinta de Las Flores, Posada del Angel, or Casa Santo Domingo. Make this gem-like city your next travel destination and you won’t be disappointed!
I have to give a HUGE thanks to Diego Chacon for not only being the best host while I was in Antigua, Guatemala shooting for Novica/National Geographic, but for being the best tour guide of the city! We went on the hunt for churches to photograph and he even posed with his wife for me on my last day for a bridal shoot for my portfolio. Seriously, he went above and beyond, but I had to share some of the fun outtakes from my week in Antigua.
All week I was staying at the fabulous boutique hotel, Hotel Cirilo, right in the heart of Antigua. Imagine a hotel that was built around the 16th century ruins of a church and every morning you can sit outside amongst these ruins in the courtyard to have your breakfast. It truly was a zen magical place to sleep and work. We used the hotel for the backdrop of our catalog shoot for Novica.
On Thursday we visited four churches. The first one is Ermita de la Santa Cruz, this one is right outside Antigua and is the place that I had to climb the fence in a sundress in order to take a photo:) Then we stopped at Iglesia El Calvario, but it was closed. So I ended up taking a long exposure shot outside with the lantern and that was good enough for me:) Then we stopped at a church where I got asked randomly to take a photo of a little boy. This church is called Ermita de Santa Isabel. Then the light was fading and I knew that I would only have a ten minute window to get that perfect twilight shot of a church at night where there was a bright blue sky. So we rushed across town so I could get my tripod out to take this shot of Iglesia y Hospital de San Pedro from the middle of the street.
On Friday, my last day in Antigua, Diego and Maria were getting ready for our bridal shoot in the cobblestone streets and I saw a soccer match happening in front of these ancient church ruins. I rushed over to take a photo and then decided that we should take some bridal portraits there too. It is called Ruinas de Candelaria and is such a dramatic backdrop to the daily pick-up soccer games that happen there. But the most famous landmark of all is Calle del Arco. It's the street where the huge yellow Arch is, the Arco de Santa Catalina, and it is the center of tourism, commerce, and the lifeline of the city. We did a lot of our photo shoot in and around the Arco. I am OBSESSED with the colors and textures of the walls and streets of this city. Every wall is a dream backdrop for me and I had such a blast shooting an engagement and bridal shoot here!Imagine having the opportunity to spend a few days and nights living among sixteenth century ruins, or getting to visit beautiful churches that are over 400 years old. Recently, I had the chance to do this and so much more when I went to Antigua, Guatemala. As a photographer, this city was my absolute dream as it was a watercolor palate come to life in the various churches, parks, and architecture that laced the city grounds. There is a city ordinance that only allows you to paint your walls yellow, blue, brick or white, so the vibrant earth tones mixed with the crumbling paint and cobblestone textures of the city made it a photographer’s paradise. Guatemalan children play pick-up soccer games surrounded by ruins of days gone by. At the Hotel Cirilo (originally the sight of the Chapel of the Pains) I was transported to another time as I sipped my morning coffee engulfed by the walls of the hotel that have survived from the caste system days of the 1500s. Hotel Cirilo is in a tranquil, quiet neighborhood of Antigua, walking distance from everything, but far enough from the street vendors and hustle and bustle of the city center. It is a boutique hotel boasting only 7 rooms, each with it’s own fireplace and opening up to the inner courtyard, overlooking 16th century church ruins. Towering majestically in the backdrop of the courtyard, is the Volcan de Agua (Water Volcano) which local legend gives it the name due to a huge flood in the 16th century that wiped out the city and the water was said to have come from the volcano’s crater. The city’s long history of natural disasters has led to the capital of Guatemala being moved to Guatemala City, but even though Antigua is flanked in each direction by 4 volcanoes, it’s charm and simplicity keeps people from ever wanting to leave. Being there just a week was long enough for me to fall in love and want to spend as much time in Antigua as possible.