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Travel Destination: Santa Ana, El Salvador

Updated on July 4, 2011


Santa Ana, El Salvador is situated in the middle of El Salvador. This city is the second largest city in the country and worth a stop by if you are planning to a stay in this wonderful country. Santa Ana is full of history and architectural beauty that is unrivaled in all of El Salvador. If you are looking for another place to stay outside of San Salvador but still interested in easy access to El Salvador’s sites this is the best location. From here you can take day trips to see the colonial town of Metapan, Montecristo national Park as well as Pompeii of Central America.

Brief History of Santa Ana

Santa Ana’s history stretches far back into time to the pre Columbian period. The area was originally inhabited bur the Lenca and choitis tribes. During the later part of the 1200’s  these tribes were soon faced with extinction as the Sihuatehuacn tribes wiped out a lot of the original people in the area or made the ones there slaves. They were building up a another great city that now sits in ruins which was Nahuat which also stands for “Place of Priestesses”

Santa Ana was original named by the Spanish by a well known Guatemalan bishop by the name of Bernardino Villalpando. It started as a small town and quickly grew into a major trade city in the early 1800s. The city traded extensively in coffee and sugar. The lands around Santa Ana were very fertile, because of the Santa Ana volcano. Past eruptions had made the volcanic ash that had flowed town the mountain some of the best places to grow crops in all of El Salvador. It then became the richest city in all of el Salvador and soon got the name as the colonial seat of old money. With all their wealth and prosperity the people of Santa Ana were able to build one of kind masterpieces like the Santa Ana Cathedral, municipal building and Theater

What to See

The City of Santa Ana is a wonderful time machine in the way of old architecture and hospitality. The respective sights that you will see in this old city are within a short distance of one another. Most of the sites are located around the central town square of the city known as Parque La Libertad. The main theater is on the northern side of the town square, the Cathedral to the East and if facing south you will see the church. A little more to the west and you will see the hustle and bustle of the town hall.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral in the Center of the Town square is uniquely fitting to the area. Its style of architecture is not seen in most of the surrounding neighborhoods which generally make it stand out quite nicely. There is a neo gothic sense to the old style architecture of this aluminous place. Inside the magnificent structure is a large vaulted ceiling held up by massive columns that run in different colors down the edges of the sanctuary.

The Cathedral was originally build in the early 1900s and was dedicated around February in 1913. There is one fantastic piece only seen in all of El Salvador and that in the center of this magnificent cathedral there is a dedicated alters to the Virgin Mary. The alter is in the shape of the Cross pointing east. Along with this cathedral of worship there are a number of other small churches that dot the area that do stick

Santa Ana Cathedral
Santa Ana Cathedral
Santa ana
Santa ana
Santa Ana Volcano
Santa Ana Volcano


out each until made in their own way and represent the faith they represent. It is interesting to note how there are a lot of different religions in this country of repression and turmoil yet the differences are respected by the local population.

The Teatro de Santa Ana

The Teatro of Santa Ana is a renaissance style building that was built at the turn of the century. It is said to be one of the most naturally acoustic theaters in all of Central America. The very first performance in this unique theater was performed by an Italian opera company in the early thirties called Rigoletto. After the human plays stopped being performed here and during the early 50s it was restored to watch regular movies. But due to the cost and maintain the theater was soon abandoned and it was allowed to decay until the early 1979. The people of Santa Ana decided to renovate this great piece of local history. It now stands in the original green that it was built with and is a wonder to see.

The interior of the theater is still in the original marble that it was built with. Also, the original stained glass windows which are centric to the central dome of the theater. After restoration every week end you can see performances played in this theater and is a favorite of the national orchestras who plays there regularly.

The Municipal Building

The municipal building to the south is one of the original colonial style building left from the era. This building attracts both history and architecture lovers the world over. Tourist are not allowed into the interior but can roam the outside in its wonderful gardens and sit in the shade of the enormous palm trees that blow over head.  Or take a small dip in the central fountain and make a wish. There are some very special features of this building that you should take notice of including the original wooden shutters and large clock tower that over hangs the main door of the building a true site to see in this small city.


Fiestas are something that every tourist or visitor should experience here. Everyone likes a good party right. No one can throw a party like they do in Santa Ana especially at the Fiestas Julias. It is a festival that pays respect to the cities founding saint the lady of Santa Ana. The festivities include coronation of the queen and a colorful parade that dances down every street of the city. Marching bands and historical reproductions as well as the food are a number of the attractions.  This is a very popular celebration in Santa Ana so if you want to experience it book a hotel early.

This is a wonderful city to visit and I highly recommend Santa Ana if you are passing through El Salvador or Central America. You can take a sip of your morning coffee as you watch the morning clouds roll in over the shadow of the volcano. This is the perfect city for a relaxed atmosphere outside of the hustle of San Salvador. This little City looks small but it has so much to offer if you stop and take a peek you will be truly surprised.


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