Backstory on the restoration of the Palace of the Captains General in La Antigua

The palace was demolished by Captain General Martín de Mayorga after 1773. In fact, Mayorga got a royal decree to demolish the entire city after the earthquakes of 1773 but no one paid much attention to it. He did, however, demolish a great part of the palace, trying to move the large stone columns. The palace was rebuilt in the 1890s.

The palace was demolished by Captain General Martín de Mayorga after 1773. In fact, Mayorga got a royal decree to demolish the entire city after the earthquakes of 1773 but no one paid much attention to it. He did, however, demolish a great part of the palace, trying to move the large stone columns. The palace was rebuilt in the 1890s.

Can you give us the Backstory on the restoration of the Palace of the Captains General in La Antigua?

The National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala (CNPAG) worked on this project, under the direction of architects Yolanda de León, Selvin García and Edgar Farfán, for the past two years with a budget of Q16,000,000 paid for by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

While CNPAG was in charge of the project, other Guatemalan construction companies also took part. The work is quite remarkable, as the last restoration (except for one corner) occurred under President Ubico in 1944, when the city was declared a National Monument.

Like many old properties in Guatemala, titles can be a tangled web. So, the first step was to register it under the Ministry of Culture and Sports’ name. I found it not so unusual that in 2005, there were a number of property titles for different parts of the same building.

The next step was to move all 14 government offices out of the building, which was no easy task. Finally, the restoration could begin. The work encompassed walls, roofs, floors and doors, plus some ingenious structural reinforcements, as well as completing all the necessary archaeological and historical studies that were required.

The government offices will not move back. Instead, CNPAG has proposed that the palace be used as a cultural center, including a meeting area and museum. It recommended moving the Museo de Santiago—now located at the City Hall Palace—to the newly restored Palace of the Captains General. In true government form, however, the decision of what the palace will house has not yet been made. This is not unusual either, as historical preservations in Antigua are first concerned with rescuing the building and then finding an appropriate use for it.

One comment

  • Another fine work by Elizabeth Bell. She continues being the finest authority on all that is Antigua. Her ongoing love, interest, and support of this colonial city, make us wish she would consider running for Mayor.

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