Los Angeles-based photographer Laura Grier travels the world, shooting destination weddings with her company Beautiful Day Photography as well as doing custom travel photography and interacting with traditional artisans in partnership with NOVICA and National Geographic via her second company, Wanderlust. Here’s what she found on a recent trip.
Imagine having the opportunity to spend a few days and nights living among sixteenth century ruins. I had the chance to do this and so much more when I went to Antigua, Guatemala, a UNESCO Heritage site. As a photographer, this city was my absolute dream — it’s a watercolor palate come to life! City ordinance mandates that all walls must be painted yellow, blue, brick or white, so the vibrant earth tones mixed with the crumbling paint and cobblestone textures made it a photographer’s paradise.
I was transported to another time at Hotel Cirilo, set inside a restored 18th century church originally called the Chapel of the Pains. Hotel Cirilo is in a tranquil, quiet neighborhood of Antigua, walking distance from everything but far enough from the street vendors and hustle and bustle of the city center. This boutique hotel has only seven rooms, each with its own fireplace.
Even the swimming pool overlooks the ruins—how amazing is this?
The city has landmark churches and cathedrals, such as the Cathedral de Santiago and La Merced. Most have been restored after damage from the city’s frequent earthquakes; others, like the lovely La Iglesia de Santa Beatriz, have been left as beautiful ruins.
I also loved the beautiful Plaza (Parque Central), which is famous for the processionals that pass through during Easter. It was here that I found the old-fashioned horse and buggy that I used in my bridal shoot with Diego and Maria. You can pay just a few dollars to ride around the Central Park and see most famous landmarks of the city.
The city’s history of natural disasters (it’s flanked by four volcanoes) led to Guatemala moving its capital to Guatemala City, leaving Antigua a place of charm and simplicity. Being there just a week was long enough for me to fall in love!
Laura says if you go to Antigua, don’t miss:
1. The ruins of Catedral de San Jose; it almost looks like ancient Roman ruins and is SO grand to photograph!
2. Acatenango Volcano it has some of some of the best hiking in all of Central America!
3. Choco Museo, a museum devoted entirely to chocolate
4. Filadelfia Coffee Resort. Guatemala’s number-one export is coffee so you have to take the time to check out one of the best plantations where it’s grown.