Ciudad Vieja served as Guatemala’s colonial capital before its destruction by mudflows from Agua Volcano in 1541, after which the capital was moved to present-day Antigua , six kilometers north.
Its former glory is long gone, its only outstanding landmark being the colonial church on the plaza. Beatriz de la Cueva, Don Pedro de Alvarado’s second wife, perished in the ruins of a nearby chapel while seeking refuge from the storm, which brought mud and water clambering down the slopes of the volcano.
Just beyond Ciudad Vieja, on the road to San Miguel Dueñas, Estación Experimental Valhalla (Km 52.5 Carretera a San Miguel Dueñas, tel. 7831-5799, www.exvalhalla.net , 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is an experimental macadamia nut–farming operation. You can tour the organic plantation, sample macadamia chocolates and macadamia oil skin-care products, or eat delicious macadamia nut pancakes served with blueberry jam and macadamia butter 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
The owner is a visionary who sees macadamia trees as a sustainable agricultural and ecological alternative to coffee harvesting and may be on hand to show you around.