We are in Antigua, Guatemala this week. The bright, blue sky above and the vibrant green volcano backdrop only accent the incredible colors of the city itself. CNN Travel ranked Antigua Guatemala #8 on their “25 of the world’s brightest, most colorful places” in the world because of its vivid architecture. But, we think there are lots of other reasons why color is what you think of when you come to Antigua!
Guatemala’s vibrantly painted “chicken buses” are iconic and can’t be missed in Antigua, particularly if you are standing anywhere near the primary handicraft market where they stage their routes. These recycled American school buses are as original as their drivers. They transport people and goods (including chickens) throughout and between Latin American countries. Riding in one can be more adventure than you want, but we hear from locals that if you want the experience of a ride on a magic school bus, Antigua may be the best and safest place to give it a try.
Most of Antigua’s historic center was built in the 17th and 18th century. Along with the cobblestone streets, the Spanish Colonial buildings with their terracotta tile roofs appear to have changed little over the years. The pastel palette that adorns the exteriors is both iconic and intentional. It is also regulated. Along with the color white, there are only 12 other colors that are permitted to be used in the city center. These include varying shades of red, yellow and blue.
Colorful Textiles and Handicrafts
Mayan descendants make up about 40-50% of Guatemalan population, and many (especially women) have retained age-old customs, including artistic crafts and traditional clothing. Colorful woven fabrics can be seen everywhere in Antigua. Some of the patterns are still created using the backstrap loom – a tedious and revered art form that produces one-of-a-kind products. In addition to the fabrics, vibrant color can also be found on pottery, leather goods, jewelry and hand-blown glass.
Americans flaunt their manicured yards out in the open, but not so in Guatemala. With historic roots in Spanish Colonial style, you can expect to find the gorgeous landscape features tucked behind walls and gates in Antigua. Mounds of wisteria, rows of bird-of-paradise, and dripping vines of bougainvillea and periwinkle accent manicured landscapes with bold purples, oranges, yellows and reds. Antigua is a unique opportunity to take advantage of viewing these incredible garden retreats since many of them are open to the public in the form of cafes, art galleries and hotel patios.
In what other ways do you spot color in Guatemala’s vibrant city of Antigua?