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Travel Journal

Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

Come, join us on the trip of a lifetime, and experience one of the most exciting and colorful cultural events in the world… Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Antigua, Guatemala.

Antigua’s Semana Santa is the most extravagant and impressive in all Latin America, rivaled only by a similar event that takes place in Seville, Spain. The cobblestone streets of 16th century colonial Antigua are covered in alfombras (carpets) made up of colorfully dyed sawdust, pine needles, flowers, flower petals, corozo (yellow flowers pulled from giant palm pods), berries, fruits, and vegetables.

The celebrations reach crescendo proportion with the big processions and pageants on Good Friday. On Thursday night the streets are meticulously carpeted and on Friday morning a series of processions with teams of penitents wearing peaked hoods and accompanied by solemn dirges (melancholic music from local brass bands) and billowing clouds of copal incense accompany them as they carry the image of Christ and the Cross on massive platforms. Some of these floats weigh over 7000 pounds and require 60 men to carry.

No other town has the appeal and the charm of the world renowned Spanish Colonial Antigua, Guatemala. From its colonial architecture to its local markets, quiet courtyards with ornate gardens, this town is considered one of the most beautiful in Central America. It is like stepping back into time over 300 years.


More than 30 Monastic orders called Antigua home and built stunning monasteries, convents, and cathedrals in the town. The sights and sounds of colonial Spain permeate the atmosphere. At the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, prepare to lose your breath and your heart to the most romantic, most transporting, most unexpected, most Antiguan of the hotels in the "old capital". It is a colonial monument intact, a fifteenth-century monastery re-invigorated as a premier luxury hotel.

In the highlands of Guatemala we will stay at the beautiful Hotel Atitlán amidst botanical gardens overlooking Lake Atitlán. Experience what Aldous Huxley called “the most beautiful lake in the world”. With its three towering volcanoes majestically standing watch over the twelve Maya villages surrounding the lake, it is a magical place and you will never want to leave. The botanical gardens of colonial style Hotel Atitlán will enthrall you.

Another highlight of Guatemala is its colorful villages and markets nestled throughout the highlands. We will visit the “crown jewel”, the world famous Maya market of Chichicastenango brimming with beautiful hand woven textiles and splendid works of art and crafts in designs and techniques passed on from generation to generation. The Maya/Catholic rituals and open-air market of “Chichi” and the blazing colors of everyday dress will enthrall you.

Jeremy Dyck