Granada

The oldest city in Central America, founded in 1524, keeps as treasures its old colonial architecture. It is located 27 miles (45 km) from Managua on the north shore of Lake Nicaragua. The main highway, Managua-Granada, is a scenic route as are the majority of Nicaraguan roads. Once in this colonial city you have so many different attractions that overnight at Granada is a must.

The Spanish conquistador Hernández de Córdoba founded Granada in 1524 on the shores of the "Great Lake" in the shadow of the Volcán Mombacho. Since then, it has been attacked three times by French and English pirates, and in 1856 was set afire by the infamous American filibuster William Walker.

Today, Granada is still a thriving port and community set amidst an astonishing landscape. It offers a trip back in time with its colonial structures and folkloric heritage. Riding through the streets of Granada in a horse drawn carriage is one of the highlights of a trip to Nicaragua. Charming colonial buildings and churches in the Baroque style alternate with those in the Renaissance style built around a beautilfully landscaped central plaza, common to the Spanish cities of the 16th century.

The pier on the lake (small port) serves as a departure point for other amazing destinations such as Solentiname, Ometepe and San Juan River, using the Hydrofoil, 56 seats at 35 miles per hour (55 km/hr).

The Isletas

Granada is also a port on giant Lake Nicaragua. From the Tourist Center it will be easy for you to get a boat to visit Las Isletas just offshore, a beautiful archipelago of volcanic origin. A normal tour around the islands can take about an hour. Some of the 365 islands are inhabited and most are covered with a vast variety of unusual vegetation. It is also an area rich with bird life.

Visitors to Las Isletas may feel like they are actually on a South Sea, islands are separated by ponds and the isletas are separated by canals where firshermen, seated patiently on Indian rafts, wait for a bite.

Of archaeological interest is the Fortress of San Pablo placed strategically on an island opposite the city. The fortress was built in the mid - 18th century to protect Granada from the marauding pirates. It was restored in 1974. Pre-Columbian archaeological stone pieces were found on Pensacola Islet and are on exhibit in the Museum of the San Francisco Convent.

Near Granada, you may visit the extinct Mombacho Volcano which rises 4,593 feet above sea level. Its sides are covered with rich vegetation and properous coffee plantations. Over 30 varieties of orchids may be found there.

Zapatera Island is about an hour by motor launch from Las Isletas. This beautiful island has dense forests which surround many important archaeological sites. The island was once an Indian burial ground, and for this reason it has been declared a National Park.

Highlights:

    Colonial architecture:

    • The "Fortín de la Pólvora" (restored old Spanish ammunition fortress),
    • "Xalteva" and "La Merced" churches built in the XVIII century.
    • The "San Francisco Convent" dated 1524 with its Indian Stone Idols Museum is restored.
    • The "Casa de Los Leones" with the beautiful stone carved portal (main door entrance) and Plaza.
    All the colonial era attractions are at walking distance. Minimum time for a city tour is 2 to 3 hours. A complete day can be dedicated to stroll through the city center. The weather is hot at noon time.

    Local atmosphere:

    • "Central Plaza", surrounded by the Cathedral (1900), the outdoor cafe at the Alhambra, the beautiful neo classical building of the Casa Pellas, the old City Hall creates a perfect setting for you to enjoy and relax.

    Nature:

    • "The isletas": on the shores of Granada there are 356 small islands forming canals surrounded by lush vegetation, birds and flowers. 45 minutes to 1 hour ride in small boats.
    • "Lake Nicaragua" (the only with fresh water sharks) 8,264 sq. Km. With 100 miles (160 km) long and 20 miles (35 km) wide. Seen from the small plaza dedicated to Hernán Fernández de Córdoba, Spanish founder of the city, or from the boat ride through the Isletas.
    • The "Hot Springs", tall grass canal and dry tropical forest hiking trails at the base of Mombacho Volcano. Late afternoon nature tour. 3 hours minimum. 10 passengers maximum at the same time in the protected area. Tour performed in small paddle canoes. The tour guide at the base camp provides a short flora and fauna briefing.
    • The protected area "Top of the Volcano Park", located at 3,670 feet (1345 mt) above sea level will be open to the public at the end of 1996. Access to the top of the volcano is by a small and steep road. At the top you will find trails down to the extinct crater and breathtaking view points. Very unique dwarf flora is found here, as well as flowers, orchids, bromeliads and Blue Morpho butterflies.

Hotels:
Alhambra, located at the Central Plaza. 50 rooms, air conditioned, restaurant, outdoor cafe.
Granada

Other Areas: [Bluefields] [Corn Island] [Granada & The Isletas] [Leon] [Managua] [Masaya]
[Los Pueblos] [Ometepe] [Rio San Juan] [Selva Negra] [Solentiname]

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