If you love exploring old church ruins, Antigua, Guatemala is the perfect place for you. It seems like every other corner presents you with another church, dilapidated through years of earthquakes. However, the best ones in Antigua are the ones you can go inside and explore. There are a number of them, but I happened upon the Ruins of Santa Clara Church and Convent, and just couldn’t say no.
The Monastery and Church were originally built in 1705, housing nuns of the Second Franciscan Order from Pueblo, Mexico, before being completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1717. After that, an architect by the name of Diego de Porres was charged with restoring the buildings. The new version was completed in 1734, with the main facade becoming one of the best pieces of Baroque architecture in Antigua.
A mere 40 quetzales (approx $5.30) gains you entry to the ruins. From there, you’re free to roam about and stay as long as you like. I spent a little over an hour there, but you could easily spend more or less time.
Some rooms are labelled so you have an idea of where you are, and what purpose these buildings once had. There are a few informational plaques as well- both in Spanish and English.
It is easy to get lost in the maze of rooms. One room seems to open into another, into another.
Some rooms are small, once used as work rooms or classrooms. But the most breathtaking is the spectacle of the church interior.
To stand in these rooms and try to imagine the history is an incredible experience.
There are beautiful gardens and courtyards within the ruins. With colorful flowers and grass growing among the rubble, it’s quite an artistic sight to see.
The views from the second story choir are just stunning.
While I was visiting, they were doing some restoring. I’d be interested in seeing how they preserve the look and character of the crumbling walls.
Overall, The Ruins of Santa Clara are a photographer’s dream. Everything you see is beautiful. These are not the most popular ruins in the city of Antigua, but that just means the space is quiet, and away from crowds. Its peaceful and shrouded in fascinating history. Bring a book or a picnic, and find a place to just relax the afternoon away.
The Ruins of Santa Clara are open every day from 9am to 5pm, and are located at the corner of 6a Calle Oriente and 2a Avenida Sur.