Third Foundation of the City, history of Antigua Guatemala

The third foundation of Antigua Guatemala took place after the mudslide from Water Volcano in 1541. The city was rebuilt with beautiful buildings, most of them were religious. It was considered the official home of the Spanish colonial administration in the area. During the pass of time the city prospered and many Governors ruled in the name of the King of Spain.


During 1770 the population was only about 25,000 people. Most of them were mestizos, Indians or black people, only 6% were Spanish. This last group became the aristocracy, they were the descended from the original conquers. They earned their money as merchants.


By 1773, in addition to the cathedral and government palace the city had 30 churches, 18 convents and monasteries, 10 chapels, the University of San Carlos, 5 hospitals, an orphanage, fountains and parks.

The fury of Hunapú the Water Volcano, the destruction of Ciudad Vieja

When Beatriz de la Cueva was the Governor in 1541, a mudslide destroyed the beautiful city of Ciudad Vieja. This was caused by the Water Volcano, best known as Volcan de Agua. At that time, its original named was Hunapú. The volcano was named by the kaqchikel people and the meaning was “place of flowers”.

The legend tells that Spanish people were happy by the rain, while the mayan people were forced to work under the bad weather. During five days the rain didn´t stop. The old natives announced that the rain was caused by the fury of Hunapú, who was mad seeing the bad treat to its people. With prophetic words they told that one punishment would come to the governor and her assistants.

On September 11 at 3am, mud, water and rocks descended from the volcano, destroying everything at its way.

Beatriz de la Cueva, “La Sin Ventura”

In 1541 Beatriz de la Cueva, cries constantly for her husband Don Pedro de Alvarado, who was killed. After this incident she was called “La Sin Ventura”.

On September 9, Beatriz de la Cueva took over as Governor, but two days after, on the unlucky date of September 11, a mudslide from the Agua Volcano, destroyed the city, killing many, including Beatriz. After this incident it was decided to move the city once again.

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