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Palacio Nacional, Guatemala City | © Fernando Reyes Palencia / Flickr
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala City | © Fernando Reyes Palencia / Flickr

A Walking Tour of Guatemala City's Architectural Landmarks

Picture of Jack Guy
Updated: 26 February 2018

Despite suffering a succession of destructive earthquakes throughout its history, Guatemala City is home to a number of interesting buildings. Take our walking tour to discover the city’s best architectural wonders.

Take a walk around the centre of town

Luckily for walkers, many of the top sights are clustered in the centre of the city, along the main shopping street known as Sexta Avenida, or 6th Avenue. There are also a lot of Art Deco buildings here, an architectural style that was popular in the 1920s and 30s.

Start off in Parque Central, where you’ll find the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and the Metropolitan Cathedral. While these two aren’t Art Deco by any stretch, they’re a good place to start your walking tour. Take a tour around the Palacio to see the opulent interiors, renovated in 2010 after originally being completed in 1943.

Visit the bar where Che Guevara drank

Come out of the palace and head to the Metropolitan Cathedral to your left, an imposing structure that was started in 1782 and completed in 1871. Afterwards, walk to the corner of 6th Avenue and take a look at the Edificio La Perla, the first Art Deco gem on the tour. Take a stroll through the interior galleries, where you will find cafés, jewellers and a famous bar called El Portalito, where Che Guevara was known to drink during his time in the city.

Continue along 6th Avenue to Edificio Engel, a magnificent pink construction. Most of the building is now devoted to residential units, and unfortunately you can’t see inside. Further along the road is the former LUX cinema, which now houses a Saul restaurant and the Spanish Cultural Centre, which puts on a regular program of events. Cine Tikal, a few doors down, has the original lettering on its façade but is now home to discount shops.

Former publishing house an Art Deco highlight

Down on 5th Avenue is the dilapidated but beautiful Imprenta Hispania building. What was originally a publishing house is now a mixed use building, but the impressive lettering is still visible. Elsewhere along 6th Avenue there are other Art Deco details visible, but none as impressive as those mentioned previously.

As the Guatemalan capital has expanded, new architectural styles have dominated, and most are rather featureless, so stick to Zone 1 if you want to see the more interesting pieces of architectural history in Guatemala City, all of them within walking distance.