Downtown Tegucigalpa offers a unique view to the history of Honduras and many of the important historical points of interest in the country. Despite the fact that the colonial capital of the country was Comayagua until 1880, Tegucigalpa has a nice selection of historical buildings with plenty of history and unique architecture.
The best spot to begin a walking tour of Tegus is Central Park. Without doubt, the most outstanding building here is the Cathedral which is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Tegucigalpa, St. Michael Archangel. The Cathedral has recently been restored and is the pride of Downtown Tegucigalpa. It was built during Spanish Colonial rule between the years of 1765 and 1782, and its beautiful baroque altars are living proof to the importance that the silver mines of Tegucigalpa had to the Spanish rulers. The St. Michael Archangel Cathedral is usually open to the public and visitors are welcome to visit as long as they show the proper respect to the sanctity of this Catholic temple.
The plaza located in front of the Cathedral of St. Michael Archangel is called Plaza Morazan, in honor of the Honduran hero who not only fought during the independence war, but also was a great promoter of the Central American Federation. A big statue of Morazan himself riding his beloved horse can be seen in the center of this lovely Central Plaza.
A short block towards the south of the park (to your left if the cathedral is on your back), you will find the Plaza de la Merced. Here a lovely colonial church and adjacent building which originally was home to the Mercedarian Monks, now houses the National Art Gallery. The complex was built between 1680 and 1700, and is one of the older buildings you will find in the city. Although relatively small, the church has a lovely ornate altar and is in very good condition. Entrance to the church can be tricky, because unlike the Cathedral, it is not always open, so the best option is to inquire at the National Art Gallery as to the regular hours of the church. The adjacent building, which today houses the National Art Gallery, operates as a museum and there is a small entrance fee to the Gallery. The National Art Gallery offers a complete collection of Honduran art, dating from colonial days to contemporary artists. They also have ad hoc exhibitions from time to time. The operating hours at the National Art Gallery are Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m till noon. It is closed on Sundays. This building also functioned as the site for the first University in Honduras for a time. Although the building has been modified over the years, it has retained the original architecture and is a fine example of Spanish Colonial architecture in Central America. You will love the large interior courtyard with a well in the middle, and the spacious corridors that surround it. It is a two story building that is really quite well preserved. http://museosdetegus.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/galeria-nacional-de-arte
Adjacent, you will find a modern building that hosts the National Congress, where the 128 democratically elected congressmen of Honduras have their sessions and pass the new laws. The building, which in my opinion is rather ugly, has a large covered patio on the ground level, and from time to time you can enjoy a cultural event here. Access to Congress is of course restricted.
Just across the street from Congress you will see a tall modern building that is the offices of the Central Bank of Honduras. If you cross the street and walk past this building you will come upon an interesting building which served as the presidential house of Honduras from 1919 until 1972. The building has a stone façade and a carved coat of arms of Honduras. After the presidential house was moved from here in 1972, this building was totally renovated and today is the home of the Center for Documentation and Historical Studies of Honduras, which is run by the National Autonomous University of Honduras. Here you can find the ethno historical archives of the university, as well as the National Archive of Honduras. For a few years one of the Historical Museums of Tegucigalpa operated here, but it has been gone for several years. In any case, the building is really interesting and with luck you can access the interior and take a few photographs of this historical building in Tegucigalpa.
From here, I would recommend you backtrack to the Central Park or Plaza Morazan, from where you can continue down the pedestrian street. This street
is known as Paseo Liquidambar, and is a big, pleasant commercial area, where you will find all sorts of franchise restaurants, shops and office buildings. The street is about 5 blocks long and there are several interesting buildings along it. Two blocks to the east you will see on your right side (looking North) The Church of los Dolores, one of the most important old churches in Tegucigalpa. The plaza in front of the street has just been renovated and offers a nice atmosphere and gives the church its place on the plaza. In the old days the plaza had been taken over by street venders, but today it is an open space that invites you to stroll from the Paseo Liquidambar to the Plaza de los Dolores. Incidentally, the area is all guarded by municipal police and is safe for you to walk. As in all big cities, it is best to not bring jewelry or fancy watches that will attract the attention of the locals, but once again, the area is perfectly safe and walking it will give you a true feeling for Tegucigalpa.
If you walk back to the Paseo Liquidambar, you will have one more block to go before you arrive at the Museo de la Identidad Hondureña (www.min.hn). The National Identity Museum of Honduras is relatively new and is located in an old building that once housed several different government ministries. The building is a National Heritage site and is commonly known as the Palacio de los Ministerios. It is probably the largest historical building in Tegucigalpa and occupies a whole block. During the Maduro government it was given in administration to a foundation who restored the building and set up one of the most complete museums in Honduras. Taking a tour of the site is certainly worth while and I wholeheartedly recommend you do so. The Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. and Sundays from 10:00 A.M. till 4:00 P.M. it is closed on Mondays. There is an entrance fee to the museum. One of the highlights of the exhibits is a virtual presentation of Copan representing life during the peak of the civilization in this Mayan city. The presentation is certainly unique and if you will not have the opportunity to visit Copan you should make sure you do see the presentation.
Just across the Museo de Identidad Nacional, you will find another historical building in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran Postal Service building. This is an interesting building that is worth visiting to get an idea of how important postal service was in Honduras in the past. Of course, all mail coming into or out of Honduras was classified in this same building before sending it out to the recipients.
After your visit if the Museo de Identidad Nacional and the Honduran Postal Service building, you should continue down the same street, which by the way is no longer pedestrian and will have changed names from Paseo Liquidambar to Avenida Cristobal Colon. At the end of the next block you will se another historical building: the Manuel Bonilla Theater. The theater is located across a nice small park called the Parque Herrera.
The building was inaugurated to celebrate Independence Day, the 15th of September in 1915, so it is close to celebrating 100 years of service. Originally to be called Teatro Cervantes, in honor of the great Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the building was named after the President of Honduras who commissioned the construction of this cultural site, Manuel Bonilla. The theater is the pride and joy of the Tegucigalpa society. You can check for events being held there at www.teatromanuelbonilla.hn
The Parque Herrera was designed back in 1914, in preparation for the inaugural act for the Manuel Bonilla Theater. The park is named after Dionisio de Herrera, the first president of Honduras. Across the corner Northeastern corner of Parque Herrera you will find a nice small colonial church called Iglesia El Calvario. This is one of the older churches in Tegucigalpa, dating back to 1783. The small colonial Church has a very important role during the Easter Week Processions in Tegucigalpa and offers the last stop of this walking city tour that we are sure will give you a totally different perspective of capital city of Honduras, which to me is a true gem with lot of character.
For your return to Plaza Morazan I suggest you backtrack along the same route that you have already taken. If you still have time, you might want to hire a cab and have them take you to the Villa Roy Museum, which is located only a few blocks from here. Although I have walked the distance several times, the area along this route is not as well patrolled by the police so you are probably better off taking a cab and staying of the streets. The Villa Roy Museum is a lovely home that belonged to Don Julio Lozano, one of the presidents of Honduras and offers a complete collection of Historical artifacts that relate to the History of Honduras as an independent country. It is located at the Barrio Buenos Aires, only about 5 or 6 blocks north of the Museo de Identidad Nacional. Villa Roy is open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The main headquarters for the Honduran Institute on Anthropology and History are located on the same premises as the Villa Roy Museum.
I hope you enjoy my suggestions to enjoy Tegus at its best!
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