A barred gate covers the entrace to Capilla del Cristo chapel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Historic Churches in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Jan is the cultural center of Puerto Rico. Many of the island’s must-see sights are in Old San Juan; among them are these beautiful and beloved old churches. One is the second-oldest in the western hemisphere, another has two origin stories, both a tragic and triumphant version, and one is a truly excellent example of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture.

The carved and painted front of San Andrés Xecul's Technicolor church.

The Many Sights Near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The towns and villages surrounding Quetzaltenango make for some interesting day trips. Found nearby are the Santa María and Santiaguito Volcanoes, hot springs, Indian markets, colorful churches, and an exquisite crater lake.

Flowers on display in the Chichicastenango market. Photo © Al Argueta.

Exploring Chichicastenango in Guatemala’s Western Highlands

Chichicastenango (Chichi, for short) will provide you with an opportunity to take in a unique highland market experience. Today, Chichi is still very much a K’iche’ town with strong adherence to the old ways, and there are plenty of sights to take in outside the bustling market. Learn about this Mayan village’s history, its sights, and how to handle yourself in the marketplace.

A painted lion statue in the Plaza de Leon. Photo © Micah Craig, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias is a bustling Spanish colonial plaza surrounded by many lovely 19th-century buildings. Filled with vendors of all kinds by day and music every evening, here’s what to see and do in this beautiful gathering spot.

El Fortín, a circular fortress tower, in Heredia, Costa Rica.

Heredia, Costa Rica’s City of Flowers

Heredia, seven miles north of San José and colloquially known as La Ciudad de las Flores (City of Flowers), is surrounded by coffee fields. A pleasant atmosphere pervades the grid-patterned town despite its jostling traffic, making it easy to wander. There’s something here for history buffs, coffee aficionados, nature lovers, and after all that, the nightlife is pretty good too.

A wall of religious icons in Iglesia de San Ignacio, Tunja, Colombia.

Tunja’s Historic Churches

Tunja is a city of churches, with over a dozen that date to colonial times. Everything you need to see here is located in its centro histórico, and make sure you arrive during church visiting hours, as the city does not have much else to offer. And most importantly, learn about the beautiful architecture and history of each one before you see it in person; you’ll appreciate your visit so much more for it.

Iglesia San Francisco in Old Town Quito. Photo © Paul Prescott/123rf.

Sights in Quito’s Old Town

Quito’s Old Town is what makes the city famous, containing a huge number of colonial churches and religious buildings set around elegant plazas. Old Town is cleaner, safer, and a joy to wander around following a recent multimillion-dollar regeneration. While there are excellent guided maps and multilingual tours to be had, independent travelers will find exploring easy with expert author Ben Westwood’s account of the area.

Quito Ecuador 123rf

Discover Quito, Ecuador’s Capital City

Ecuador’s capital is a city that scales many heights, not least in terms of elevation. Quito is an intriguing mix of old and new: colonial squares and concrete office blocks, traditional markets and modern malls, indigenous artisans and fashion-conscious professionals—and this diversity allows visitors to have the best of both worlds.

Antigua's lovely Parque Central. Photo © Al Argueta.

Sights in Antigua’s Parque Central

Antigua’s Parque Central is easily the most beautiful plaza in Guatemala and forms the hub of activity for shoe shiners, strolling lovers, tour groups, ice cream vendors, and foreign visitors. A great place for a stroll or people-watch, there are also plenty of sights to see, from historical cathedrals and incredible architecture to informative museums.

Colonial-era church in San Rafael de Escazú. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Spending Time in Escazú, Costa Rica

Though officially part of metropolitan San José, Escazú is divided from the capital by a hill range and river canyon and is so individualistic that it functions virtually as a sister city. On top of that, there are actually three Escazús, each with its own church, patron saint, and character worth exploring. Learn about the individual vibes of San Rafael, San Miguel, and San Antonio, and the sights to see.