Nicaragua is made up of 3 major zones; fertile Pacific lowlands, wet, cooler central highlands, and the Caribbean lowlands. There are 2 large lakes (Managua and Nicaragua) located near the Pacific ocean and the area around them becomes fertile plains because of soil due to the ash from nearby volcanoes. Nicaragua is considered a diverse because it has an abundance of biologically important and unique ecosystems.
Nicaragua was conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century and earned its independence from Spain in 1821. After its independence, Nicaragua has gone through some difficult times, which included political unrest, dictatorship, intervention by the US and the revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Before the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America’s wealthiest and most developed countries but the revolution combined with the 1972 earthquake changed its economic standing. Economic growth and political stability have helped Nicaragua in recent years and the stability as well as its biological diversity; tropical climate and active volcanoes have made Nicaragua a popular tourist destination.
The population of Nicaragua, approximately 6 million, is multiethnic with about a fourth of the population living in the capital city of Managua. Most people visiting Nicaragua will fly into Managua, which is the industrial, commercial, political and cultural center. Its chief products include beer, coffee, matches, textiles, and shoes.
City Tour of Granada
The city of Granada has a population over 100,000 and is Nicaragua’s fourth largest. Throughout history, Granada has been one of Nicaragua’s most important cities, economically and politically. It has a rich colonial heritage, seen in its architecture.
Granada was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, supposedly the first European city in mainland America. Many other cities have claimed that distinction but the city of Granada was not only declared the first settlement but also registered in official records of the Crown of Aragon, and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain.
There are many interesting sights to see in Granada , such as the Antiguo Convento San Francisco. This navy blue structure was built in 1529 and destroyed many times but restored. Over the years it has served as a barracks, university and now a museum. It has many beautiful galleries and courtyards and is home to pre Colombian statues from Nicaragua. The museum can be found 2 blocks north and 1 block east of the main cathedral.
Situated nearby is a historical building called Casa de los Leones that was built as a colonial home and now houses an international cultural center. The center contains an art and music school, museum, library, concert hall, literary café, bookstore, and exhibition space for artists. La Plazuela de los Leones is a walkway that runs along the eastern portion of the city to the Parque Colon, the center square that contains stalls, food vendors and houses the city’s main landmark, the orange Cathedral on Calle Guzman and La Calzada.
To find another church, cross the park and walk east on Calle Real Xalteva for 2 blocks, you’ll come across the Iglesia de La Merced. This is considered Granada’s most beautiful church, and its baroque facade and intricate interiors have inspired poets and tourists for centuries. The bell tower offers great views of the city.
Six blocks farther west on Calle Xaletva, is the Fortaleza de la Pólvora, a fort built in 1748 to guard munitions and protect the residents from pirates. This medieval structure was once used as a jail is now a military museum and makes for an interesting visit. Try climbing one of its five small towers for a better view of the city.