Facades of Antigua, Guatemala

Facade   [fuh-sahd, fa-]

noun

1.  Architecture.

  • the front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one.
  • any side of a building facing a public way or space and finished accordingly.

2.  a superficial appearance or illusion of something.

The majority of Antigua's residents don't come from the city itself. Compared to the surrounding rural areas of the Western Highlands and much of Guatemala, where 59% of the population live below the poverty line (World Bank, 2017), Antigua feels like a romanticised colonial movie-set. Westerners wear pieces of Mayan clothing, as indigenous culture is sold in the form of souvenir dolls and fridge magnets. 

Antigua has experienced devastating earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods throughout the ages. Central America's most active volcano, Fuego, is situated less than 10 miles east. It erupted violently in June 2018, claiming the lives of 194 people.

As more cross-cultural guesthouses move-in, along with dainty cafes selling Guatemala's finest produce, and the franchises take ground; the city's residents and authorities have the responsibility of protecting Antigua's exposed, charming exteriors. The layers of paint and brick offer glimpses of the past, as the city's interiors continue to be renovated towards touristic comforts – at a cost far beyond what most Guatemalans can afford.   

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