Tegucigalpa is the Central American Capital City with the Most Colonial Heritage!

Here I go again, you will ask, how can Tegucigalpa be the Central American Capital City with the most Colonial Heritage? Heck it was not even the capital of the province of Honduras during colonial times! Yet, as it turns out, today, most of the capitals of the Central American countries where not the most important city of the province during colonial times. Take, the case of Managua, in Nicaragua. This became the capital of the country to end the power dispute between the conservatives that wanted Leon, the old colonial capital to continue being the Capital and the liberals from Granada, that were keen on moving the capital city to their hometown.

Tegucigalpa is the Central American Capital with the most colonial heritage
The Colonial Cathedral in Tegucigalpa

In the case of Costa Rica, the Colonial capital was the city of Cartago, not far from the San Jose, which is the Capital of Costa Rica today. Guatemala City became the Capital of Guatemala in 1776. The city was founded on July 25th of 1776. This action took place after the almost complete destruction of the old capital after a strong earthquake that shook the city on July 29, 1773. This was not the first earthquake to shake Antigua Guatemala, but it was certainly the most destructive. This means that the oldest colonial buildings that you can find in Guatemala City today are from the late colonial period. Their construction was between 1776 and 1821, when they became an independent country.


San Salvador does not have a strong colonial heritage either, therefore does not compete with our claim. In the case of Honduras, the colonial Capital was the City of Comayagua. Comayagua retains its colonial heritage and it is a true pleasure to walk around town, visit the different plazas and churches, and explore the magnificent colonial Cathedral. But it is no longer the capital of Honduras…

Indeed, Tegucigalpa is the Central American Capital City with the most colonial heritage!

Central Americas Capital with the most colonial heritage
A view of Tegucigalpa at night from La Leona Park

Although Tegucigalpa is considered to have been founded on September 29th, 1578, there is no proof of this. Tegucigalpa existed as a native town long before the Spanish arrived in the land. There was a silver mine up in the mountain, where the La Leona neighborhood is today. You can even say that La Leona Park was the first central park for Tegucigalpa! Although there are no religious or civil colonial buildings in around La Leona, there are many old cobblestone streets and homes that date back to colonial days.


True Honduras Safety
Plaza de Las Dolores in Downtown Tegucigalpa. photo by Maya Isabel Portillo

The Plaza de los Dolores and the Plaza de las Mercedes, in downtown Tegucigalpa where both, at different times, the heart of the city. Yet, ironically, although these did have the proper church, they did not have a government building on the square. It was not until the Cathedral was built in Tegucigalpa that a proper town hall was erected within the park.


Tegucigalpa is the Central American Capital with the most Colonial Heritage
a view of the interior courtyard at the National Gallery in Honduras

Do you enjoy walking in a city and visiting its colonial monuments? Tegucigalpa offers the best quality and well-preserved colonial buildings of all the Central America capital cities. Most of these are of course religious buildings. The crown prize of course is the Cathedral of St. Michael Archangel on Central Park, aka Plaza Morazan. But the Church of Mercy, located just a block from Central Park is perhaps the most beautiful and elaborate. Next to it is the Paraninfo, or National Art Gallery. This was in the past a monastery and was in effect the site of the first university in Honduras. The building is not only beautiful, it also holds a fantastic collection of colonial and contemporary art. This is one of the museums in Tegucigalpa that is worth visiting.


Other fine examples of colonial buildings in Tegucigalpa are the Church of San Francisco and Los Dolores. Although less elaborate than the Las Mercedes Church and the Cathedral, they are still valuable examples of colonial architecture. The best way to visit these colonial buildings in Tegucigalpa is by taking a walking tour of downtown. There are other interesting buildings that are more recent, but still offer an interesting view of Early Republican Architecture in Tegucigalpa. These include the Manuel Bonilla Theater, as well as the old Ministries Building. The latter houses the Museo de Identidad Nacional, another Tegucigalpa Museum worth visiting.

Tegucigalpa is the Central American Capital city with the most colonial heritage today. Give yourself a chance to discover its charm. You will be surprised at all that this city has to offer in the downtown area!