Here are some the notes from the talk “Las Sirenas de La Antigua Guatemala” by Dr. Miguel F. Torres that I attended a few weeks ago.
Sirens or mermaids are mythological beings from prehistory. Their origins go as far back as Sumerian and Egyptians gods and survived thanks for Homer’s description of their singing in “The Odyssey.” In Greece they were first represented with the upper body of women and and the body of birds. Through millennia, their iconography transformed into what we know today, the upper body of a woman with a fish tail for the lower body.
Mermaids arrived to the art of Santiago de Guatemala through baroque books and stamps from Renaissance. Mermaid decoration were quite popular during colonial times, and many still remain visible through the architecture of Antigua Guatemala. Many of the mermaids or sirens that still exists today were the creation of colonial architect Diego de Porres, who used extensively through all his works. In fact, we can even argue that sirens were his architectonic signature. Of course, the most notable and popular mermaids are the replicas at the Fuente de las Sirenas on the Main Square, fountain commissioned by the City Hall in 1738.
However, there are plenty of mermaids through out the city. In fact, my next photo walk in English will be titled “Hunting mermaids in Antigua Guatemala with your camera.” Stay tuned for dates and times.
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