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Destination Details

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala City, locally known as Guatemala or Guate, is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala, and the most populous in Central America. The city is located in the south-central area of the country and has a large number of green areas. In 2009, it had a formal population of 1,075,000, but the metropolitan population is believed to be at least 4.5 million by 2013. Guatemala City is also the capital of the local Municipio de Guatemala, and Guatemala Department.

 

The city is located in a mountain valley called "Valle de la Ermita" in the south-central part of the country.

 

Within the western confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyu. Kaminaljuyu was first occupied by the Mayan civilization around 1500 BC, and the city continued to be inhabited until around 1200 AD. It is one of the Americas' most notable archaeological sites. The center of Kaminaljuyu is located a short distance from the oldest part of Guatemala City, and in the late 20th century the city grew around the ruins, and, in some places, over some of the outlying ruins before they were protected.

Many of the several hundred temple mounds have been covered over with freeways, shopping centers, businesses, luxury hotels and residential areas, but the central ceremonial center of Kaminaljuyu was protected by the Guatemalan government and is now a park. There are also many ruins still in existence and protected by the government.

In Spanish colonial times, Guatemala City was a small town. It had a monastery called El Carmen, founded in 1628. The capital of the Spanish Captaincy General of Guatemala, covering most of modern Central America, was moved here after a series of earthquakes—the Santa Marta earthquakes that started on July 29, 1773—destroyed the old capital, Antigua. On September 27, 1775, King Charles III of Spain officiated at the moving of the capital. This move to a location at a significant distance from the volcanoes believed to have caused the earthquake dramatically increased the potential for expansion of the city. The new city was given the name Nueva Guatemala (New Guatemala).

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