Museum of Modern Art Carlos Mérida

A journey of the individuals and events that have shaped Guatemala’s art scene Proudly centered around the Quetzaltecan artist Carlos Mérida, Guatemala’s Museum of Modern Art takes visitors on a journey of the individuals and events that have shaped the country’s art scene. Originally built as a salón de baile for President General Jorge Ubico in the 1930s, the beautifully […]

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Unlocking Samajab

The Museo Lacustre de Atitlán stunningly presents an important underwater archaeological site The task of conveying the wonders and rarity of an abandoned, underwater Mayan burial and ceremonial site to dry, fully clothed museum-goers on the surface was quite a challenge for the Museo Lacustre de Atitlán, the informative underwater-themed exhibit dedicated to Samabaj. Although the actual Mayan site is […]

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Lured to La Antigua

In 1946 Gore Vidal purchased the property adjacent to the elaborate façade of the Church of El Carmen. (photo by Jack Houston)

Mystery tantalizes the memory of Amelia Earhart, who disappeared somewhere over the Pacific during her attempted flight around the globe in 1937, piloting her twin-engine plane with only a navigator aboard. The world watched and waited as communication broke, came again, broke again and eventually fell silent. In the early days of aviation, Earhart’s gutsy solo flight across the Atlantic […]

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Weaving a History

The weaving tradition expresses that past and the world view, full of symbolism which connects the Maya to all of creation. (photo by Rudy A. Girón)

At the beginning of time, according to ancient Mayan legend, the gods from their center spun out the cosmos, setting in place the universe. The corn god laid out the four corners and erected the World Tree in the center, from whose branches grew one of everything to come. When they became too full, the ‘fruit’ fell, scattering seeds. The […]

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Muleback Hosanna in Guatemala

Jesús Nazareno de la Merced (photo: © José Carlos Flores)

The Oddkins-Bodkins odyssey of how La Antigua’s patron image left town Your drive from La Antigua to Guatemala City retraces a procession trod in 1778 by the foremost Antiguan of the day. Being a mute statue, he raised no objection to the move. But so many others did object that the authorities making out his ticket proceeded with anguished caution. […]

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Macaws and Parrots in 3rd-9th Century Mayan Art

Military macaw (Ara militaris), Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve, Copán, Honduras (Nicholas Hellmuth)

by Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth The most remarkable deity in the ancient Mayan myth of the Popol Vuh is “Seven Macaw.” In reality this preening bird-creature is pictured in Classic Mayan art as a snake-eating raptor. So in most renditions in murals and pottery, Seven Macaw is a hawk-like composite creature without very many features of a macaw (other than […]

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In Search of Almolonga

Church and plaza of San Miguel Escobar, facing west; probable vicinity of the second Santiago and possible site of its cathedral.

Exactly where was the center of old Santiago? Traditionally the honor has been assumed to belong to the urban center of Ciudad Vieja, the Old City. But was it? Tropical storm Agatha raged throughout Guatemala in May, déjà vu of 9/11/1541 for the hard-hit area east of Ciudad Vieja. Weeks later, the church of San Miguel Escobar still sheltered people […]

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How ‘bout a Coffee?

Schumann, Wagner and Goethe met frequently to chat at Coffé Baum in Leipzig, Germany. Established in 1694 and Germany’s oldest coffee house, Coffé Baum still serves satisfied customers and includes a popular coffee museum on the third floor. In his spare time from his duties as choirmaster at Thomas Church in Leipzig, J.S. Bach composed his Coffee Cantata in 1732, […]

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Juan Matalbatz a.k.a. Aj Pop’o Batz

written by Bob Makransky The only instance, in the entire Spanish conquest of the Americas, when the local chieftain was permitted to retain the power of government. By the year 1543, after several unsuccessful military expeditions against the warlike Q’eqchi’ Indians, the Spanish conquerors were desperate. At the same time, it had become evident to the chieftain of chieftains of […]

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Would the Real Independence Day Please Stand Up?

Guatemala, El Salvador and their sisters did not win independence on Sept. 15 At our house in Panajachel, July 4 is Independence Day for two reasons. As citizens of the United States, my sons and I observe it in some fashion. But July 4 is also the day that my youngest, Aaron Donald Coop, marks his birthday. This was not […]

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Health Care in Colonial Guatemala

Part III: University of San Carlos Medical School By the end of the 17th century, six hospitals had been founded in Guatemala. But, lacking scientific information and methods, hospitals provided little more than refuge or asylum. Sickness and cultural attitudes toward it were a social problem. In addition, the times were characterized by conflict between the king’s people and the […]

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Guatemala City—The Young Capital

A late bloomer of Latin America written by David Jickling Among Latin American capitals, Guatemala City is a later comer. Most of the major cities of Spanish America were founded in the 16th century, within a hundred years after the arrival of the Spanish. In contrast, Guatemala City was established at the end of the 18th century after the destruction […]

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Some Guatemalan Cultural Firsts

Guatemala is home to many surprising precedents, for better or worse. Guatemala is the oldest country in the Americas, though not the oldest republic. Civilization, kindled here some 43 centuries ago, is Guatemala’s loftiest precedent. Ancient Guatemalans were the first peoples in the Americas known to engineer a sophisticated water-pressure system. They may have been the first in the world […]

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Healthcare in Colonial Guatemala

Ruin of inside wall of Hospital Real de Santiago, now within a private garden

written by Joy Houston photos: Jack Houston Part I: 16th Century What medical options were available centuries ago in Guatemala for wounds from enemy arrows, burns, natural disasters or epidemics? Mixing medicine with magic was routine in colonial days. “Medical science was slave to theory and superstition,” writes Carlos Martínez Durán in Las Ciencias Médicas en Guatemala. What was done […]

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