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Sightseeing in La Antigua - Indian Chief Travel
GUATEMALA  |  La Antigua, Guatemala Travel Guide
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Sightseeing in La Antigua

Sightseeing

Jade Factory, 4a Calle Oriente No 34,   502/832-3841, fax 502/832-2755. The ancient Maya revered jade and used it to create sacred objects for their religious rituals. Excavations at a number of Maya ruins, such as Palenque, Chichen Itzá and Tikal, revealed tombs filled with jade death masks, jewelry, nose plugs, statues and other objects. The natural source of Maya jade was lost for centuries and many people dismissed the possibility that mines existed as myth, until Mary Lou Ridinger came along. This intrepid archeologist defied popular sentiment and, using old records made by Spanish Conquistadors, identified the source of Maya jade mines in the remote jungles of the Sierra de las Minas Mountains and Motagua Valley. During the 1960s she began her search and by 1975 had reopened the jade mines. She started Jade SA, the largest jade factory in Central America to revive the lost art of jade carving.

Today, Jades SAemploys more than 50 lapidaries who have created a fantastic collection of masks, sculptures and jewelry available for sale. At the factory, located downtown, you can see how the jewelry is made. The showroom has a collection of replica death masks, including the famous mask found on King Pakal of Palenque, Mexico. The factory tour also includes a demonstration of the equipment and techniques used to work with jade. An outdoor courtyard has restaurants, cafés and craft shops. Tours are offered from 9 am to 6.30 pm, daily. Call ahead for free pickup from your hotel. No admission fee. San Antonio Aguas Caliente Textile Tour and Museum, Artesanías Unidas, Main Street, San Antonio Aguas Caliente, #4c-16.

San Antonio Aguas Caliente is a little village 10 miles (four km) southwest of Antigua. It has the finest weavers in the country. The huipiles (traditional dresses worn by Maya women) created here are famed for their tight two-sided weave that produces an identical image on both front and back. At the local market you can find a variety of exquisitely woven place mats, tablecloths, fabrics and clothing for sale. At the textile museum and store, Artesanías Unidas, you can watch the weavers at work and try on indigenous clothing for sale. The textiles sold here are among the finest and most authentic in Guatemala.

The museum here offers weaving lessons for those interested in learning the techniques that made Aguas Caliente so famous. It keeps varied hours, so call before heading out. There aren’t many planned tours to this area from Antiqua because it’s so easily accessed independently. Take a bus from Antigua to San Lorenzo and ask the driver to let you off at San Antonio. The museum is down the main road just off the main square.

Ik’Bolay Serpentarium, Calle de los Duelos #4. This miniature zoo is a 10-minute walk from downtown. It has a fascinating display of over 110 species of reptiles, amphibians, bats and hummingbirds indigenous to Guatemala. Learn how to identify venomous snakes (a handy thing to know if you plan any wilderness hiking) and the first-aid treatment if you do get bitten. You can visit with cute vampire bats or go into the aviary to watch various Guatemalan hummingbirds, known locally as “garden jewels.” The zoo guides share popular Guatemalan legends and discuss ongoing conservation issues, This is a popular tour for families – but only if your kids like snakes! Open 9 am to 4:30 pm, daily except on Tuesdays. Q7 per person.

Last updated November 23, 2007
Posted in   Guatemala  |  La Antigua
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