Old (Not Ancient) Central American Cities

02 OCT 2015
by: Adam | posted in: Adventure | comments: 0
By now, you probably know all about the ancient ruins tucked away in the jungles of Central America. Fortunately there's been a lot of development since then, and these Central American cities will also take you back to a different time. For some of these cities, what's inside the city is what's most interesting. For others, it's a combination of what's in the city and what's nearby. Here's a taste.

 

Antigua, Guatemala



Flickr: Stacy/ramblingtraveler

See that thing in the distance looming over this picturesque city? That's a volcano. There's actually another one not too far out of frame. Lying in the valley of two volcanoes, the dramatic setting suits the long, rich history of Antigua. Founded in the 16th century, it was once a capital for the wealthy Spanish empire. That is until an earthquake hit in 1773 and destroyed most of the city. The Spanish moved the capital to Guatemala City, but what was left of the beautiful buildings stayed behind, where you can still see them today. Most of the colonial architecture is located in an easily walkable square kilometer of the city. With ruins and architecture from another era everywhere you look, Antigua is rightfully a UNESCO Heritage Site.

 

Fuente de Pescado - Built in 18th century, restored in 1944

Flickr: Adam Baker
Flickr: Adam Baker

San Augustin Church

Mario Pleitez
Flickr: Mario Pleitez

Ermita de la Santa Cruz


Flickr: Mario Pleitez

Antigua street

Flickr: Christopher Crouzet
Flickr: Christopher Crouzet

Ruins of Santiago Cathedral

Flickr: Adam Jones
Flickr: Adam Jones

 

Granada, Nicaragua


Flickr: NickelStar
Flickr: NickelStar

Another charming city sitting near a volcano, Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and has the architecture to prove it. The streets are small and clustered, with bright pastel colors reminding you this is still Central America, not Spain. There are six churches to see, all of varying ages and conditions, and one fort from the 18th century that is open to the public. Of course, you can also head out of the town and climb the volcano, get a tour of a coffee plantation, or go zip lining. Also, Nicaragua is well-known for being very pro-rocking chair, and it’s said that Granada has the best rocking chairs in the land. Just so you know.

 

Street in Granada

Flickr: Alex Barth
Flickr: Alex Barth

Guadalupe Church

Flickr: Susanna Soto
Flickr: Susanna Soto

Abandoned Farm

Flickr: Carlos Adampol Galindo
Flickr: Carlos Adampol Galindo

St. Francis of Assisi Church

Flickr: Adam Baker
Flickr: Adam Baker

Old Market Hall

Flickr: Céline Colin
Flickr: Céline Colin


Leon, Nicaragua


Flickr: Hayden
Flickr: Hayden

While second in Nicaragua to Granada's colonial restoration, tourist traffic and rocking chairs, Leon houses the biggest cathedral in Central America and its aged beauty dominates the scenery. Leon has a great art museum featuring both Latin American and European art, and another 12 churches worth checking out too. Besides that, you can use as a base to get out to Nicaraguan countryside. Is there a volcano nearby? Of course there is! Volcano boarding is a very popular option. There’s also the coast of the Pacific and its beaches located only a 30 minute drive away.

 

Cathedral

Flickr: Zenia Nuñez
Flickr: Zenia Nuñez

Roof of Cathedral

Flickr: Jessica Dally
Flickr: Jessica Dally

San Juan Bautista de Sabtaiva

Flickr: Stefan Krasowski
Flickr: Stefan Krasowski

Alley

Flickr: James Bulley
Flickr: James Bulley

Poneloya, near Leon

Flickr: Chiara
Flickr: Chiara

Volcano Boarding near Leon

Flickr: Sparkle Motion
Flickr: Sparkle Motion



Casco Viejo, Panama


Flickr: Carlos Adampol Galindo
Flickr: Carlos Adampol Galindo

Casco Viejo is technically part of Panama City, but when you're there it’s like you’ve stepped into an entirely different time and place. As the rest of the Panama City flourished with the building of the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo is the part that largely stayed the same. A major cultural center of Panama, the restored colonial buildings and streets often play host to fashion shows, operas, and the national theatre. Of course there are lots of dining, shopping, and sleeping options as well. It also has great views of the Panama City skyline, just in case you begin to feel like you’re trapped in a good old-fashioned 19th century malaria fueled nightmare.

 

Cathedral and Plaza

Flickr: Luis Eduardo Guillen
Flickr: Luis Eduardo Guillen

Square

Flickr: Felipe Valduga
Flickr: Felipe Valduga

Street at night

Flickr: Felipe Valduga
Flickr: Felipe Valduga

Church in Casco Viejo

Flickr: Marissa Strniste
Flickr: Marissa Strniste

Panama City Skyline

 

Flickr: Sarah and Jason
Flickr: Sarah and Jason

 

Source for title photo: Flickr/ Christopher William Adach
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