Read more about the article Masaya – Nicaragua
Masaya - Nicaragua

Masaya – Nicaragua

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The City of Flowers

The last day in Nicaragua, and so the quietest with the most relaxed day trip we’ve done so far while in the country. Visiting the small city of Masaya, nicknamed the folklore capital of Nicaragua, and its volcano nearby, one of the most active in the country. Enough to keep us busy for half a day and enjoy the other half resting at the hotel’s pool and a nice dinner before having to pack the luggage once again and onto the next country the following day.

Not an impressive site, nor too impressive, especially for the city of Masaya. We heard a lot before coming here that it was supposed to be a nice place, with plenty to do and enjoy because after all, it is the folklore capital of Nicaragua. So we though as such only to be disappointed. Really, there is nothing special, and after having been to Leon and Granada the previous days which both are incredibly beautiful, Masaya turned to be a simple vulgar city. Yes, few churches here and there and the Market of the Artisans, but that is all.

In the other hand, the volcano is nice indeed, but for us that we’ve recently been to so many volcanoes while in Indonesia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and days before the Momotombo in Nicaragua itself next to Leon; then seeing another one was a bit of the same. Still, it is worth to come here for sure! The views from the top are pretty cool. Far in the distance you can see Managua and farther beyond, the Momotombo volcano. Only that you need to be aware is that they only recommend you to stay at the top no more than 10 minutes. The sulphur smoke is very strong and irritates the eyes and creates breathing problems, hence why you should be quick at the top. (more…)

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Read more about the article Granada – Nicaragua
Granada - Nicaragua

Granada – Nicaragua

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The oldest colonial city in Nicaragua

Our next move while in Nicaragua took us to what ended up to be the most beautiful colonial city we were in this entire trip. I can also already say this because I am writing this travel guide after returning to London and after having been in Costa Rica which was the last country we visited in the journey. While Leon was fascinating, Granada took majority of protagonism. So well preserved! And so much to see and do. We did actually struggle with the time as we could have spent easily much longer.

After our experience I can definitely tell you that while a day is more than enough for visiting Granada, we came a bit too late from Managua. Aim to take a bus around 9.00am and you will be very well on track without any rush and enjoying more than we actually did. Remember that the days are too short in Central America with sunset by 18.00pm, time you should also make your way back when the last buses depart towards the capital.

Granada is the 3rd largest city in the country and has always been rival city with Leon since colonial times. The fact that is lies near, yet far enough from the active volcanoes, means earthquakes and volcanic eruptions rarely affect the city hence why it has survived to our days with the original colonial core almost intact and extremely well preserved. I question myself the odds on why it has not been included as an UNESCO World Heritage Site yet. I’m sure it will make it to the list anytime soon, specially after the many ongoing efforts and projects of restoration currently in place and the many others planned. (more…)

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Read more about the article Leon – Nicaragua
Leon - Nicaragua

Leon – Nicaragua

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Santiago de los Caballeros de Leon

Our first day excursion while in Nicaragua and after visiting its capital city Managua the previous day. The historical and colonial city of Leon, named after the city of the same name in northwestern Spain. It has the largest collection of colonial architecture in the country, yet only for its size being the second largest city in the country. For instance, once you visit Granada you will see that appears to be more colonial structures there than in Leon. Nevertheless, both cities are the masterpieces in Nicaragua, and both as impressive with their own character.

For churches and cathedrals Leon has no rival. It has the largest number of any city in Nicaragua, and majority of any other city across Central America excluding Guatemala. But the current location of Leon is not that of the first original settlement founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba 30 kilometres to the northeast. The archaeological remains of Viejo Leon as it is known the original settlement are an UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the only Spanish colonial settlement that was never expanded, changed nor developed since its creation. After only 86 years since it was built, the nearby Momotombo volcano and earthquakes destroyed it. A rebuilt would have been not optimal for the proximity to the volcano and possible repeated catastrophe, hence the decision for building the new city farther to the west on a much secured location.

As you might know by now, Managua like any other Central American country lies in the Ring of Fire, with many active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. And as I briefly described in the travel guide for Managua, the most recent and catastrophic earthquake flattened Managua in 1972. Thankfully the decision for the new emplacement of Leon has secured it through the centuries coming to our days almost intact and with more than 75% of its original colonial architecture. (more…)

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Read more about the article Managua – Nicaragua
Managua - Nicaragua

Managua – Nicaragua

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The Bride of Xolotlan

Our next country in this tour, Nicaragua, and base in its capital city of Managua for the next 5 days. With this we mark the country visited number 76, a whooping increasing number, although it is becoming harder and harder to raise the number, unless we start doing some cruising by the Caribbean, Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, and the biggest “unknown” Africa which I must confess I am not too confident because of the safety there.

While not many years ago Nicaragua ranked as a dangerous country to visit, with their civil war troubles, troubled government, poverty and overall instability; it has recovered from everything to the point of being the safest country in Central America out of the 7 that form it. Of course, like everywhere in the world, minding and caring for your staff and knowing where you go and where you should not is a prime rule, but indeed and after coming from El Salvador where we were having eyes even in our backs, Nicaragua was very pleasant anywhere, and Managua quite a relaxed place to be.

The only downside of the city comes since the 1972 earthquake. It was 23rd of December with everyone in Christmas spirit celebrations when the fate changed forever. Almost everything was lost, an entire city flattened with very few buildings surviving, some of which in a poor state and crumbling and not possible even to use them up to this date. The old cathedral is the best example, left as a monumental reminder of what once was a historical city with beautiful buildings, and the few that is left here today. (more…)

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