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The origin of the name 'Guatemala' is from one of the two Indian words - Quauhtemallan (meaning “land of trees”) or Guhatezmalha (meaning “mountain of vomiting water”)
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The first capital of Guatemala was founded on the site of a Kakchikel-Maya city, now called Iximche, on Monday, July 25, 1524—the day of Saint James—and therefore named Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemalan (City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala). Naturally, St. James became the patron saint of the city.
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After several Kaqchikel uprisings, the capital was moved to a more suitable site in the Valley of Almolonga (place of water) on November 22, 1527, and kept its original name. This new city was located on the site of present-day San Miguel Escobar, which is a neighborhood in the municipality of Ciudad Vieja.

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Guatemala's second capital was destroyed on September 11, 1541 by a devastating lahar from the Volcán de Agua. So, on March 10, 1543 the Spanish conquistadors founded present-day Antigua and named it Santiago de los Caballeros. For more than 200 years it served as the seat of the military governor of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, a large region that included almost all of present-day Central America and the southernmost State of Mexico: Chiapas. In 1566 King Felipe II of Spain gave it the title of "Muy Noble y Muy Leal" ("Very Noble and Very Loyal")
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After a series of earthquakes damaged much of Santiago de los Caballeros (now known as 'Antigua'), the Spanish Crown ordered, in 1776, the removal of the capital to a safer location, the Valley of the Shrine, where Guatemala City, the modern capital of Guatemala, now stands. This new city did not retain its old name and was christened Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción (New Guatemala of the Assumption), and its patron saint is Our Lady of the Assumption. The badly damaged city of Santiago de los Caballeros was thereafter referred to as la Antigua Guatemala (the Old Guatemala).
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