Antigua Guatemala, after the earthquake

People living in Antigua Guatemala were ordered to leave the city in 1773, however not everyone wanted to do it. Poor people stayed, while wealthy families and church institutions went to the new valley.

People who stayed used the ruins of churches and convents as their homes or places of business. One example was the convent of the Compañía de Jesús, which was the municipal market place until 1976.

Years passed and people made their best to resist the situation, rebuilding their homes and trying to preserve their customs.  Antigua grew slowly through the 19th century, during which period some restoration work was done on the cathedral. But it was not until the mid-20th century that the historic and architectural value of the colonial buildings and ruins began to be appreciated.

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Santa Marta Earthquake, History of Antigua Guatemala

During July 29 of 1773 an earthquake shook the city of Antigua Guatemala. This earthquake was called Santa Marta. Ten minutes later, a second earthquake destroyed most of the buildings just in two minutes. Pieces of walls were over the streets and a cloud of dust covered the air. Everything stayed in silence.

On September and December of the same year, two earthquakes shook the city again. By this time, people lived on their improvised houses, trying to recover their lives. After this event the main powers decided to move the capital to another place. However, not everyone agreed with this decision, some of them stayed in the city they loved and rebuild their houses.

¡Learn more details of the hisotory of Antigua Guatemala!

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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.

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