What’s the church museum just south of La Antigua?

Located next door to the Church of San Juan del Obispo, the museum at the convent is well worth a visit. Originally built in 1547 by Bishop Francisco Marroquín as his private residence, much of the original structure of the church and convent still remain after centuries of renovations. It is one of the most important historical monuments in La Antigua Guatemala.

The convent was renovated in the 1940s and ’50s by Archbishop Monseñor Mariano Rossell y Arellano (1894-1964). The chapel is spectacular with its exquisite altar piece (retablo) and the two seals (one for Archbishop Rossell and one for Bishop Marroquín) on the vaulted ceilings.

The convent fell into disrepair after Archbishop’s Rossell death. In 1990, the Sisters of Bethania were assigned the care of the convent, as Sister Adriana Giraldo had the vision of renovating the convent as a retreat.

The G&T Continental Foundation and the National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala renovated the building and created the museum in 2006-07, with other Guatemalan companies and universities contributing to the project.

Museum exhibits include descriptions of the life and importance of Bishop Marroquín, the first bishop of Guatemala, and a fine display of colonial art (paintings, sculpture, silver items and colonial-style furniture) in the old archbishop’s quarters. Another part of the museum has a fine handicraft exhibit with products—wrought iron, chocolate, canned loquats, ceramics and more—made in San Juan del Obispo by more than 25 artisans.

The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m., depending whether the nuns are accessible or at Mass. A donation is requested. It is located on the back side of the Church of San Juan del Obispo, south of Antigua. (Tel: 7830-6537)

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