1902 Encyclopedia > Guatemala (city)

Guatemala (city)

GUATEMALA, properly SANTIAGO DE GUATEMALA, or GUATEMALA LE NUEVA, or the New, is the capital of the above republic [GUATEMALA]. It is situated at a height of 5270 feet above the sea in a fertile meseta or plateau, which is crossed by the valley of the Rio de las Vacas or Cow River, so called from the first specimens of the bovine race introduced by the Spaniards. On almost all sides it is surrounded by barrancas or ravines. The latitude is stated as either 14° 36' or 14° 37' N., and the longitude as 90° 24' or 90° 30' W. of Greenwich. Like most Spanish American towns it is laid out in wide and regular streets, and it has extensive suburbs. The houses, though usually of only one story, are solidly and comfortably constructed, and many of them are furnished with large gardens and courts. Among the open spaces the chief are the Plaza Major, which contains the cathedral, erected in 1730, the archiépiscopal palace, the Government buildings, the mint, aud other public offices, and the Plaza de la Concordia, recently laid out by the Ministerio de Fomento, and now the favourite resort of the inhabitants. The theatre, founded in 1858, which is one of the best of Central America, is situated in the middle of another square. Besides the cathedral, the most important churches are those of San Francisco, La Recolección or church of the LaRecollets, La Merces, with a black image of the Virgin, greatly reverenced by the Indians, and Santo Domingo, the oldest church in the town. The I educational and benevolent institutions comprise the uni-I versity, the normal school, the national school for girls founded in 1875, the polytechnic school, the general hospital, the orphanage, the hospicio, the maternity hospital, and the Colegio de Belén for the education of girls. The military college is located in the old convent of the Recol-lets. An excellent museum, founded in 1831, is maintained by the Sociedad Económica, which in various ways has done great service to the city and the country. There are two fortresses in the city, the Castello Matamoros, built by Carrera, and the Castello de San José, used as a state prison. Water is brought from a distance of about 8 miles by two old aqueducts. The general prosperity of Guate-mala has procured it the name of the Paris of Central America. Though it has neither railway nor river com-munication with either coast, it carries on a busy trade ; and it also possesses cigar factories, wool and cotton factories, breweries, and other industrial establishments. The population is stated at from 30,000 to 45,000. It is only since 1775 that New Guatemala has been in existence.

Old Guatemala, frequently called merely Antigua, was destroyed by the Volcan de Agua in 1774, but still remains the chief town of the department of Sacatepequez. It is situated in a beautiful valley in 14° 32' 58" N. lat. and 90° 44' 5" W. long. Till the fatal outbreak of the volcanic forces it was one of the richest and most beautiful cities of Spanish America, possessing about 100 churches and con-vents and more than 60,000 inhabitants. The ruins are still almost majestic, and many of the buildings appear as if they had been fortresses. Among those best preserved are the ancient residence of the Spanish governors, now occupied by the administration, and the university building, now the national college. Great damage was done to the place by the earthquake of September 1874. The popula-tion is about 20,000. An older Guatemala was situated at Ciudad Vieja or Almalonga, but seventeen years after it was founded by Alvaredo it was carried away by the great inundation to which the Volcan de Agua owes its name.

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