La Antigua Guatemala was the colonial Spanish capital of Central America. It is a World Heritage Site, and is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in Guatemala.
Now commonly referred to as just Antigua (or La Antigua), the city was one of the grand colonial capitals of the Spanish Empire in America from the 16th-18th centuries. Under the name Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, it was the original "Guatemala City". A disastrous earthquake in 1773 destroyed or damaged most of the city, and the Spanish crown ordered the capital moved to a new city, what became the modern Guatemala City. In 1776 this old city was ordered abandoned. Not everyone left, but it turned from a bustling capital into a provincial town, filled with the ruins of its former glory. It became known as "Antigua Guatemala", meaning "Old Guatemala".
In the 20th century there was increasing appreciation for the large amount of preserved colonial Spanish architecture here, development to host visitors, and the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.