Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala

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Facade of the Spanish colonial church at Ciudad Vieja

Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala ("St. James of the Knights of Guatemala") was the name given to the Spanish colonial capital of Guatemala in Central America. The name was first associated with the Kaqchikel Maya capital Iximche, adopted as the Spanish capital soon after the Spanish conquest of Guatemala began, in July 1524.[1] The Kaqchikel capital was called Guatemala by the Spanish, with its origin in the Nahuatl word Quauhtemallan, which means "forested land". The Spanish took the name of the city used by their Nahuatl-speaking Mexican allies and applied it to the new Spanish city and, by extension, to the kingdom. From this comes the modern name of the country.[2] The day of the city's foundation was 25 July,[3] which is the feast day of St. James, hence the full name of the city.[4]

After the Kaqchikel rebelled against their former allies, the Spanish refounded the capital as Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala in 1527 in the Almolonga Valley, near to the Volcán de Agua. In 1541 the crater of the volcano collapsed, unleashing a flood upon the new capital, which was once again moved. The valley of Almolonga site is now known as Ciudad Vieja ("Old City").[3]

In 1543, Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala was once again refounded, this time at Panchoy. The new city survived as the capital of colonial Guatemala until 1773, when it was severely damaged by an earthquake.[3] The capital was once again moved, although this time it was given the name Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción ("New Guatemala of the Assumption"). The former capital has now become known as Antigua Guatemala ("Old Guatemala").[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schele & Mathews 1999, p.297. Recinos 1998, p.101. Guillemín 1965, p.10.
  2. ^ Schelle & Mathews 1999, p.292.
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ Turismo Cultural.

References[edit] (2006). "482 años de la fundación de la Ciudad de Santiago" (in Spanish). Guatemala: Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
Guillemín, Jorge F. (1965). Iximché: Capital del Antiguo Reino Cakchiquel (in Spanish). Guatemala: Tipografía Nacional de Guatemala. OCLC 1498320. 
Recinos, Adrian (1998). Memorial de Solalá, Anales de los Kaqchikeles; Título de los Señores de Totonicapán (in Spanish). Guatemala: Piedra Santa. ISBN 84-8377-006-7. OCLC 25476196. 
Schele, Linda; Peter Mathews (1999). The Code of Kings: The language of seven Maya temples and tombs. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85209-6. OCLC 41423034. 
Turismo Cultural. "El Día de Santiago Apóstol en La Antigua" (in Spanish). Guatemala: Turismo Cultural. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 

Coordinates: 14°34′N 90°44′W / 14.567°N 90.733°W / 14.567; -90.733