The Palace of the City Council (Town Hall), or El Palacio del Ayuntamiento, was constructed in 1743 and once served as the Spanish colonial government seat and an 80-person jail during the
colonial era. Today, it is home to Antigua’s municipalidad, or city government, the Museo del Libro and the Museo de Santiago. One of the most impressive elements of the Palacio del Ayuntamiento is its two-story façade.
The double layer of stone archways with columns was done in a Tuscan style, which contributes to the building’s striking appearance. A portion of the carved-stone exterior of the east-facing
wall managed to survive the 18th century, though centuries of earthquakes contributed to the need for restoration efforts at the palace.
Palacio del Ayuntamiento was heavily damaged in a 1773 earthquake, and the capital seat was then transferred to Guatemala City. The Museo de Armas de Santiago, an arms and weapons museum, is housed in the section that once served as the jail. The Old Book Museum, or Museo del Libro Antiguo, is in the same area where the first Central American printing press once stood and includes a replica of the printing press, along with copies of works produced by it.
Be sure to head upstairs and check out the scenic views from the second-floor balcony, where you can see the Central Plaza, Metropolitan Cathedral and the three volcanoes surrounding the
El Palacio del Ayuntamiento is open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. While admission to the Palacio del Ayuntamiento is free, each of the two museums is about 10 quetzals each.