Part museum and part hotel, the Santo Domingo Monastery or Casa de Santo Domingo—is an exquisitely restored, histori window into Antigua’s Colonial past. Founded in 1542, the monastery quickly grew into one of the largest in all the Americas, though massive earthquakes in the 18th century turned the monastery to rubble.
In the 1970s, the monastery was dramatically revived and reborn as a five star hotel, which now has a wealth of fascinating museums that even travelers not staying at the hotel are welcome to visit and enjoy. At the Colonial Museum, wander past pieces of Colonial art from the 16th to 19th centuries, where religious paintings, sculptures and angels adorn the dimly lit walls. The artifacts get even older at the Archaeological Museum, where ceramic jugs, urns and bowls date all the way back to 200 AD and the Classic Period of the Maya. To learn about local metallurgy, visit the popular silver museum to see candlesticks, crowns and incense holders that were crafted around Antigua. There’s even a classic apothecary shop reminiscent of a 19th century pharmacy.
While the Santo Domingo Monastery is open to the public, it’s best accessed as part of a guided tour of Antigua’s sites, where guides can offer in depth info of everything inside the museum.
Since the museums are located inside of a hotel, visitors are asked to be respectful of guests staying at the hotel.
Did You Know? At the hotel’s archaeological zone, two crypts were discovered during excavations, one of which held religious murals dating back to the 17th century.