The cultural center and national theater Miguel Angel Asturias was built over the remains of the San Jose castle, destroyed by the revolutionary artillery in June of 1944, successfully overthrowing the 13-year military dictatorship of Jorge Ubico, an un-democratic rule praised directly by the German chancellor at the time Adolf Hitler.
Initially the project for the construction of a national theater, began under the influence of Marco Vinicio Asturias who presented the constructions plans to the President at the time (Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes), he liked it so much, the construction began in 1961, but due to unfortunate circumstances (government coup against Ydígoras Fuentes in 1963, and the death of Marco Vinicio in a car accident), it was abandoned for five years until it was given to Efraín Recinos, an architecture genius who finished the construction of this amazing work of art (adding some mayor details himself), to be finally completed and opened to the public in the summer of 1978, originally named ”the cultural center of Guatemala”, it became a tribute to the literature Nobel price Miguel Angel Asturias by the law decree 35-1987.
I’ll never have guessed that in 2012, a year after the death of Efraín Recinos, I was going to get the opportunity to know this maze of wonder intimately by running away from the security of my favorite Spanish artist (Enrique Bunbury); driven by the wish to experience a live performance of the music that saved my life, the desire to get in despite my lack of cash was deeply rooted in me.
So, after a short talk with an equally broke but excited friend, we both decided to try our luck by sneaking into the theater before everything started, after parking inside this massive cultural center, shaped in the form of a lying down Jaguar, we noticed the main entrance was already filled with the attending crowd for the concert, so we took one of the side entrance to the classes, we tried to casually walk inside but we quickly started running away from the guards when they noticed our wrong turn into restricted area.
Being pursued for a couple of minutes inside the maze-like backstage areas was scary as it was exciting, after barely managing to lose them by hiding in the bathroom stalls, we waited there for almost an hour and a half before venturing ourselves into the unknown, guided only by the sound checks before the concert, we managed to sneak past security into the stairs of the stagehands platform, giving us a perfect view to enjoy the concert.
Built for posterity, this cultural center is still after four decades where many go to appreciate, study, develop, interpret, and perfect art; their chambers still presents orchestra, theater, performances, ballet, opera, and have witnessed thousands of artists and their work, these ageless and sacred grounds for art and culture continue to impress with their might after 41 years, a national treasure that passes the test of time with flying colors, this ageless monument can be visited without cost and spending one afternoon in their rooftop to enjoy a sunset is a must.
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