Sunday, September 06, 2009


We'll go back to Guatemala. I was thinking about the hotel where our friend got married and looked it up.

Casa Santo Domingo

It had been an old cathedral and convent until there was a terrible earthquake (and flooding...due to a large amount of water in a crater lake in the nearby volcano) in the old Guatemala and the city got relocated to the current location. Antigua (old city) was inhabited for some time, then people started to filter back in. The old grounds of that place were a debris dump for several generations until a commercial enterprise decided to excavate and turn it into a hotel. At the same time, the antiquities department of the government worked with them to also do some work to restore/turn it into a museum. It was absolutely beautiful.

The only thing remaining of the cathedral was the big wall behind the altar, and partial side walls. We got to celebrate Mass there! The wedding Mass was "in" the old Cathedral where, instead of a roof, they had a sort of permanent tent thing above our heads, lots of flowing, white fabric draped far above our heads and around us, wrought iron candles high above on the ruins of the cathedral walls were lit up, too. You could see, on the floor, where the original pillars once stood. The altar pedestal (looks like a stone table, which is still there, in it's original spot, being used as a modern altar) had a small painting of the Virgin, still standing after the destruction of the cathedral. Go to this site and check out the history of the excavation and look at some of the pictures of the museum. It was amazing to see in real life. I can't believe I was actually there. I hope, someday, I can go again with my family.

Here's an excerpt:

"The city was founded as Santiago de Guatemala (Saint James of Guatemala) and was one of the most important Spanish cities of the New World. As seat of the Captaincy General of Guatemala between the years 1543 and 1773, it was the political, religious, economic and cultural center of the region comprised between Chiapas and Costa Rica. Because of the destructive 1773 earthquakes and the Royal Decrees of the same year, the capital was transferred to the Valle de la Ermita (Valley of the Hermitage) and was founded as La Nueva Guatemala de la AsunciĆ³n (The New Guatemala of the Assumption) and that is why the abandoned city was called “La Antigua Guatemala” (the Old Guatemala)."