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The 1717 Guatemala earthquake was an earthquake that struck Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...
on September 29, 1717 and had an estimated magnitude of 7.4 Mw
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...
. With an intensity of approximately MM
The Mercalli intensity scale is a seismic scale used for measuring the intensity of an earthquake. It measures the effects of an earthquake, and is distinct from the moment magnitude M_w usually reported for an earthquake , which is a measure of the energy released...
IX, the earthquake essentially destroyed much of the architecture of Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Mudéjar-influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches...
, which was the colonial capital of Central America at the time. Over 3000 buildings were ruined including many temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...
s and churches. Such was the effect of the disaster that the authorities considered moving the headquarters to a settlement which was less prone to natural disasters.
Later earthquakes meant that after the 1773 earthquake the town had been moved three times. In 1776, after the Santa Marta earthquakes, the Spanish Crown finally ordered the capital to be moved to a safer location, in the Valley of the Shrine, where Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...
, the modern capital of Guatemala, now stands.