Only an hour from Managua, Leon is full of important history that shaped Nicaragua into what it is today.
It’s the city of the revolution and one of the oldest Spanish colonies in Latin America. Most of its treasures are found in the narrow colonial streets, art galleries, museums, restaurants, and architecture.
Leon is also a university city, and having students means having no shortage of caffeine. There are wonderful cafes and coffee houses in the main plaza whenever you need a boost. And a boost, along with a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide, is what you will need to really ‘take in’ this city. Setting about on foot is the best way to really observe and discover much of Leon’s history, wonder, and charm. The iconic Cathedral of Leon is an historical landmark, with its spectacular baroque and neoclassical architecture. It has stood the test of time because of its anti-seismic construction. Its walls have endured earthquakes, eruptions of the Cerro Negro Volcano, and bombings during civil wars. Like the Granada Cathedral, there are tunnels leading to other churches in the region, with five known access points and two secret access points. These tunnels house crypts, designed to serve as earthquake shelters. They now hold the remains of 27 people, including Bishops and some of Nicaragua’s most celebrated poets and musicians.
Nearby, the Centro de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian, located in 2 colonial-era houses is notable for its collection of Latin American and European contemporary art. Just 19 miles east, near the base of the Momotombo Volcano, are the ruins of the medieval city of Leon Viejo, which was buried by an eruption of the Momotombo Volcano in 1610. Another volcano near the city of Leon is the Cerro Negro Volcano, which first appeared in 1850 and is the youngest volcano in Central America. But don’t let its “youth” fool you. Cerro Negro has helped transform Nicaraguan Tourism by putting “volcano boarding” on the map and is one of the top global destinations for adventure tourism.
With so much history, beauty, and an abundance of natural attractions, the City of Leon never disappoints and will have you dreaming of your next visit to Nicaragua.
Located only a short distance from Gran Pacifica, Leon is a popular day-trip for hotel guests and residents. Discover more about Nicaragua by downloading the free Nicaragua Handbook.
You can read the full Forbes article here.