Even before Spanish settlers arrived in the sixteenth century, the city of Hagatna Guam was a central location for the Chamorro people of Guam. Now the capital of Guam, Hagatna has remained an important coastal city in Guam and the center of government on the island. Hagatna Guam was formerly known as Agana, but in 1998 the spelling was changed to more closely match the Chamorro pronunciation. With a major shopping center and a great beach, Hagatna Guam is a central part of life in Guam to this day.
The history of Hagatna stretches far back into the days when the island was occupied solely by the Chamorro people. In 1668, the first Spanish missionary to arrive on the island, Padre San Vitores, made his way to the city known today as Hagatna. Although the city was not the Guam capital at the time, it was a major city nonetheless. The first Spanish church in Guam was built in Hagatna, and later most of the indigenous population of Guam would be forced to relocate to the city.
Hagatna has been the capital of Guam since the Spanish-American War of 1898 when the United States captured Hagatna from the Spanish. Throughout the Japanese occupation of the Guam capital many of Hagatna's historical sites were damaged, as was much of the city itself. When Guam was recaptured from the Japanese the U.S. military attempted to reconstruct the Guam capital, and today many of Guam's only straight roads can be found in Hagatna.
Despite the turbulence experienced by the capital of Guam over the years, there are still a number of historical monuments and remains can still be viewed by tourists. Sections of buildings left over from the time of Spanish rule can still be seen in the Plaza de Espana near the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Agana. Near the Plaza de Espana in this capital Guam provides is Latte Park, where visitors can see pre-Spanish stone pillars referred to as Latte Stones.
In addition to checking out the historical sights, Hagatna is also a great place for shopping. Hagatna is one of the only villages on the island divided into straight city blocks, and travelers will find areas with shops, cafes and other restaurants throughout the heart of Hagatna. Shopping enthusiasts in particular will enjoy the Agana Shopping Center, the Agana Theaters and the Chamorro Village shopping area. Hagatna is also the main site of the Liberation Day festival each year in July, with a week of carnivals and feasting leading up to July 21st. Visitors looking for Guam hotels or Guam resorts during the festival will want to book well in advance.
Whether you come to enjoy the nightlife of Hagatna, eat out or shop in the many duty-free shopping areas, Hagatna is worth a visit. Not only is the city a major historical site and the capital of Guam, but there are of course excellent beaches on the coast as well. The city is just a short drive from Tumon, Barrigada and other centrally located cities on Guam.