Casa Santo Domingo is said to be the best hotel in Antigua, Guatemala, and it’s also known for a group of museums on its grounds. We went to the Paseo de los Museos on a rainy afternoon and spent hours wandering around the halls of artifacts, art and human remains.
The grounds are gorgeous. Once you enter the hotel from the road, pass the first few gardens with toucans hanging on perches, pass by the ritzy restaurant, and follow the signs leading you to the museums. Toucans are hanging on perches in the gardens.
After visitors pay admission (hotel guests don’t pay), the first thing you come across is a large fountain, and also a crypt with adult remains. Each spot of importance on the grounds has a marker in Spanish and in English.
The site was once the church and convent of Santo Domingo, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas College. So many remains found here are of people with some prominent stature, and people from the convent, although some bones date back to the years before the Spaniards showed up.
There also are some remains above ground behind a glass casing.
The Colonial Museum features wood carvings, paintings and sculptures from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The art was beautiful, and much of it was in Baroque style. My favorite might have been the couple in purgatory. (I started the walk in a bit of a somber mood.)
The Archeology Museum features Mayan relics from Guatemala’s Classic Period (200 – 900 AD).
The Museums of Pre-Columbian Art and Modern Glass features pre-Hispanic artifacts next to modern day glass sculptures from around the world.
The Marco Augusto Quiroa Hall and the Hall of the Aritst feature temporary artistic exhibits. This is a cool hall because ruins are preserved under the floor, and along the walls.
The Sacatepequez Arts and Popular Handcrafts Museum has an array of items important to the indigenous people of Guatemala.
The Pharmacy Museum is a hall with furniture made at the end of the19th Century, along with pieces that were once used for medicinal products.
All of these museum halls are surrounded by well-kept grounds. There is also a “Chocolate Factory,” and a candle shop, in case you want to buy something.
We went in the month of June – rainy season. It was manageable with an umbrella – most of the walk between halls is covered. We also went on a Monday, so the free shuttle wasn’t running to the off-site museum on the Hill of the Cross. But admission to that outdoor museum is free, and we’ve walked up the hill before, so we’ll wander back up again to see that at some point when it’s not raining.
The main entrance for Paseo de los Museos is through the hotel entrance at 3a Calle Oriente Norte, #28. Admission was 48 quetzales each – or about $7. Totally worth it for us budget slow travelers.