I’d been waiting to go up to Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross) for some time now. I wanted to show you some pictures from this gorgeous lookout point, but the rainy weather (which runs from May to October), was making a muddy mess of my plans.
The best days to visit are cloudless days, or at least when the view towards Agua Volcano is clear. It’s a great picnic spot. There are snack vendors on the hill, in case you want to buy bottled water, soft drinks, nachos, or potato chips.
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Hiking to Cerro de la Cruz
The road to Cerro de La Cruz, while very close to Antigua, has been the scene of holdups, so Tourism Police advise everyone to wait around Central Park and at designated times, Police provides an escort to the top. As we were leaving, we actually saw a Police truck arrive with two tourists on board. Incidentally, there was a Police Officer at Cerro de la Cruz and saw more than three officers patrolling the area on foot, motorcycles, and a truck.
Since we were driving, this wasn’t really a concern. The uphill road is fairly deserted, so it’s best to hike up during daylight hours.
After the two-minute car ride up, we approached the clearly marked entrance.
There’s actually another point of attraction near Cerro de la Cruz, which I’ll show you later. The same uphill road takes you to Aldea El Hato, a small village where EarthLodge is located.
Driving To Cerro de la Cruz
Signs for Cerro de la Cruz
Admittance to Cerro de la Cruz is free, although if you drive up, there’s a parking fee of 5Q for cars, bikes, and taxis.
Parking lot fees
The place where the actual cross is located is called “Mirador de la Cruz” (Cross’ Lookout).
At the top of the hill
When To See The Best Views
The view of Volcan Agua was great. This time of year, mornings are the best time to go. It often gets cloudy in the afternoons, making the vista a bit less scenic.
During summer, the volcano looks stunning on late afternoons.
View of Antigua
That’s what I call “breakfast with a view”!
Nice place for a picnic
One can actually see all three volcanoes from here. From left to right, Volcan Agua, Volcan Fuego (quiet that morning – usually spewing smoke) and Volcan Acatenango.
All three volcanos in view – From left to right: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango
Since the last time I was here, they’ve added steps and have begun to decorate the landscape with flowers.
According to the landscapers that we spoke to, the city allocated some money to “pretty up” Cerro de la Cruz. Unfortunately, the Mayor was recently thrown in jail for misallocation of funds and they’ve stopped working on the project about a week ago. Hopefully, the issue gets resolved and they can complete the work since it’s a really nice area that seems like it has potential to be a very pretty attraction. It’s all finished and pretty now!
The famous stone cross was installed in 1930. The road between Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala were damaged when Guatemala was hit by a massive earthquake in 1976. Huge American Chinook helicopters landed on this hill when it was time to deliver medicine and supplies to Antigua.
The famous cross atop the hill
Plaza del Apostol (Apostle’s Plaza)
After breakfast, we headed to the other attraction at Cerro de la Cruz. Plaza del Apostol Santiago is pretty much that: A plaza and a statue.
The statue was donated by Spain and installed in 1971. Santiago Apostol (Apostle James) was the patron saint of the conquering Spaniards, back in 1543 and remains Antigua’s patron saint to this day.
According to legend, when Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado was in his genocidal quest to submit the Mayas, he saw a vision of Saint James coming to his aid on a white horse during a crucial battle, which he took as a sign he was on God’s side. When de Alvarado was defeated, he decided to burn the Kaqchikel Mayas’ capital of Tecpan and settle in Panchoy Valley, naming the new capital after Santiago.
Saint James, it seems, didn’t like other races very much – iconography in Guatemala and Spain frequently depicted him on a horse, stomping on whatever race happened to be at war with Spain, whether the Mayas in Guatemala or the Arabs in Spain. In fact, he’s often referred to as Santiago Matamoros (James the Moor-slayer).
It’s always baffled me that the Municipal Palace displays a distinguished, life-sized portrait of de Alvarado and has a festival to honor Maya-slayer Saint James – no such portrait exists of Mayan heroes, like Tecún Umán. But such is the complex history of Guatemala and a subtle reminder of who still rules over who.
Saint James in battle gear ready to stomp on the Mayans
There’s also a great view from Volcan Agua from here.
Another view of Agua Volcano
Cerro de la Cruz is a “can’t miss” attraction if you ever visit Antigua Guatemala.
NOTE: Article was originally published on 11/9/12 and was updated on 4/22/2018.
See more activities here: https://www.okantigua.com/things-to-do-in-antigua-guatemala/
Have you visited this place?
I’d like to hear about it!