Now almost 350 years old, Guatemala City has survived wars, earthquakes and civil unrest. This metropolitan hub proves a chaotic mixture of colonial arches, crumbling art deco facades and architectural leftovers dating back to the 1980s. Street sellers hawk everything from batteries to freshly squeezed goats milk, while every street corner features a different preacher, clown, painter, artisan or activist. It is a thriving city where people from all corners of the country mix and trade daily, living in one of Latin America’s most unequal countries.
Talk to any tourist guide, and chances are they will tell you to skip Guatemala City and head straight to its popular neighbor, the historic city of Antigua. More often than not, Guatemala City is whittled down to nothing more than a transportation hub and gateway for travelers keen on visiting the “Heart of the Mayan World.” With a reputation that precedes it, many visitors opt to skip Guatemala City altogether. While Guatemala City—like any other major metropolitan area—has its setbacks, it also is home to some hidden gems found scattered across the historical center, close to the city’s Central Park.