In 1523, Captain General Don Pedro de Alvarado began the conquest of the highlands of Guatemala and eventually captured territory all the way to Peru.
In 1524, Alvarado established the first capital in Iximche, and named it “Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala” (City of the Knights of Saint James of Guatemala).
On November 22, 1527, after several Cakchiquel indian uprisings, the capital was moved to a more suitable site in the Valley of Almolonga – to the present-day city of Ciudad Vieja.
When this city was destroyed on September 11, 1541 by a devastating mudflow emanating from the Volcán de Agua, the colonial authorities decided to move once more, this time to the Valley of Panchoy.
On March 10, 1543 the Spanish conquistadors founded present-day Antigua, and again, it was named Santiago de los Caballeros. For more than 200 years it served as the seat of the military governor of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, a large region that included almost all of present-day Central America and the southernmost State of Mexico: Chiapas.