Santo Domingo del Cerro is quite the attraction. All rolled into one, Santo Domingo del Cerro has a restaurant “Tenedor del Cerro,” two museums, art gallery, aviary, zip lines, playgrounds for kids, event facilities, and all around marvelous place to spend a lazy morning or afternoon – all for the grand price of $0.
Yup, no admission charge. Of course, if you want to enjoy the Italian restaurant at the summit you’ll have to pay. I had breakfast here – expensive compared to prices in Central America, but well-worth the experience.
While Cerro de la Cruz gets all the accolades when it comes to getting a birds-eye view of the valley, the view from Santo Domingo del Cerro is outstanding. Plus, you won’t need a Police escort as you do at Cerro de la Cruz.
Getting to Santo Domingo del Cerro
The free shuttle departing every 15 minutes from Casa Santo Domingo Hotel (even for non-guests). I recommend it since it’s a very long, steep walk if you attempt to walk your way up the hill. If you want to drive up, it’s a 10Q fee to park, payable when you exit the premises.
Once you make it to the top of the hill (while admiring all kinds of art sculptures scattered all throughout the grounds), you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view from the top.
Below is a view of Antigua. Notice La Merced Church, the distinctive yellow building near the center of the picture.
View from Santo Domingo del Cerro
Active Fuego Volcano
Santo Domingo del Cerro offers a great view of Volcan Agua, which looms large over Antigua Guatemala.
Dormant Agua Volcano
El Tenedor del Cerro
El Tenedor del Cerro (translated as “Hill’s Fork”) is a white-tablecloth restaurant, open Tuesday through Sunday. The food is good (though I’ve heard others complain when it first opened) and prices are comparable to US-based chains Applebee’s’ or Chili’s. Here’s a look at their menu.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). These are their hours
Breakfast 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Lunch – 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Dinner – 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
El Tenedor del Cerro
Sculptures at Santo Domingo del Cerro
Various artists were commissioned to create the sculptures that now dot the grounds. But this place is a showcase for one man. Known as Guatemala’s Picasso, he’s one of Guatemala’s most beloved artist. More below.
Efrain Recinos Outdoor Gallery
Efraín Recinos was a remarkable man. And I’m sad to say I never had a chance to meet him, as he passed away October of 2011.
By all accounts, he was a genuinely humble man with many, many, many accomplishments. He was an architect, sculptor, painter, muralist, inventor and all-around artistic legend.
Oh, and he was also an Olympic athlete (triathlon), and a member of the National Basketball team. Imagine Leonardo DaVinci, but with athletic skills.
And he also designed Guatemala’s coolest building, the National Theater (Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias). Designed to look like a jaguar (sacred Mayan deity), this is the closest anyone has come to actually building Thundera, home of the Thundercats.
Recinos personally supervised the murals’ construction. He passed away just five days after attending the unveiling of his statue (below), installed permanently at Santo Domingo del Cerro.
Efrain Recinos sculpture
Recinos previously designed the murals, now at Santo Domingo del Cerro, for an international competition. His vision for the paintings was finally realized here.
Each mural depicts a different form of “Communication.” A recurring theme of Recino’s art is the recurring appearance of his artistic depiction of “Guatemalita” (loosely translated as “little Guatemalan woman,” in which the word “little” is used to convey affection. Notice that Guatemalita’s hat is in the shape of Guatemala’s map.
As far as design goes, the carrier pigeon mural is by far my favorite of all.
Recino’s award-winning murals
See the gallery below for more:
Guatemalita is often depicted as a voluptuous, strong-willed, adventurous woman.
More Guatemalita art
Recino’s most popular sculpture in the museum is “Guatemalita and the Volkswagen Beetle.”
Recinos owned the Beetle below, which was vandalized in the 70s, a turbulent time in Guatemala when he was directing the construction of the National Theater.
Efrain Recino’s former VW Beetle
There’s an aviary at the end of the mural “corridor.”
Aviary at Santo Domingo del Cerro
In addition to many other salons and reception areas, Santo Domingo del Cerro has a beautiful chapel, available for weddings.
Chapel, Santo Domingo del Cerro
Pope John Paul II & Miguel Asturias Museum
Right underneath the chapel, there’s a small museum commemorating Pope John Paul II’s last visit to Guatemala (2002). It was during this visit that Antigua Guatemala’s unofficial Mayor, Santo Hermano Pedro de Betancourt, was canonized.
Saint Betancourt remains Central America’s only official Saint.
The museum is tiny and fairly new. The door to the museum was open, so I had the whole place to myself.
Pope John Paul II’s museum
From what I could gather from the scant information on the walls, these were articles used by Pope John Paul II on his last visit.
Inside John Paul’s Museum
The picture laid on the table in front of me said something to the effect that the chair I was now sitting on was the same chair that the Pope used during his visit. I looked at the picture closely, and the chair was certainly the same design.
The small bathroom inside the museum had been cordoned off. The sign also stated that it was for “exhibition purposes” only.
Were those bathroom fixtures the same that the Pope used? Not sure. The towels did have the Vatican’s seal on them.
I mean… was that “the” throne that the Pope used? I’m not going to tell you if I took it for a spin or not.
But I will tell you that not a soul came by in the 15 minutes I spent inside the museum…
Bathroom fixtures used by the Pope
The Miguel Asturias Museum features artifacts once belonging to Miguel Asturias, Guatemala’s Nobel Prize-winning writer.
Below is an image of Saint Betancourt, which sits right above the chapel.
Hermano Pedro art
The road leading to and from also has striking art by its side.
Horse sculptures, Santo Domingo del Cerro
Whichever way you decide to visit, whether by car, shuttle, by foot… or even by helicopter (there’s a helipad waiting for you), Santo Domingo del Cerro is a must-see.
Helipad, Santo Domingo del Cerro
See more activities here: https://okantigua.com/things-to-do-in-antigua-guatemala/
What is your favorite “lesser-known” gem
in your local area?