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Neighborhood summary: Zona 1

Guatemala, Guatemala Province and Guatemala City, Guatemala City

Zona 1, Guatemala City

Guatemala City is divided in 25 zones, and Zona 1 is in the very heart of the city. Zona 1 is also called Centro Histórico (Historic Center), and goes from Avenida Elena to 12 Avenida and from 1 Calle (street) to 18 Calle. There are many historic buildings in this area, such as the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Culture Palace), where the government of Guatemala used to be headquartered. Now it is a museum, but it is also the spot known as Kilómetro Cero, because all the distances in the roads and highways in Guatemala are taken with this place as the Zero Kilometer.

This Palacio is part of the Plaza Mayor, together with the Catedral Metropolitana (cathedral) and the Central park (the latter is officially the Plaza de la Constitución). The declaration of independence of Central America was signed here, in what now is Parque Centenario (Centennial Park). You will never find this plaza empty during the day, because it is always crowded with vendors, people coming and going to the buildings and bus stops surrounding it, and there is often a political protest.

Another highlight of Zona 1 is the Mercado Central (Central Market). It is behind the Cathedral, and if you are looking for handicrafts this is the place to go. It is also recommended that you take some time to try there some treats and traditional Guatemalan food.

Use common sense and ordinary precautions (as you would anywhere) and avoid walking around unnecessarily at night. If you arrive late at night –especially if your bus leaves you in 18 Calle - it is better to take a taxi.

A good way to get the “feeling” of this area is by walking on Sexta Avenida, or as the locals call this activity, Sextear. If you come from the South, this avenue will take you to the Plaza Central.

Further Information

Travel tips:

Wear comfortable shoes. Streets, avenues and buildings are numbered, so finding addresses is easy.

Must see/do at this place:

Visit Mercado Central, Palacio Nacional and don't forget to visit the Palacio de Correos.

You should avoid here:

Use common sense. Pickpockets usually are where people (especially tourists) congregate.

Other helpful information:

Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Neighborhood summary: Zona 4, Guatemala City,

By Juan Manuel Marroquin
Certified Sworn Translator, English Professor in...
04 May 2010

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