A Brief History The name León was made up after the Spaniard Francisco Hernández de Córdoba founded it in 1524. Initially the city was located about 20 miles east of where it is currently. It was relocated back in 1610 when the population fled the old site fearing that the Momotombo Volcano about 2 miles away would erupt. They wound up close to an indigenous town called Subtiava. After separating from the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, León was in competition with Granada to become the capital city of Nicaragua. The fight for the number one spot lasted for almost 20 years with the capital status being thrown back and forth to León and Granada, until Managua became the permanent capital in 1858. Geographically León is located along the Río Chiquito River, about 90 km northwest of Managua, and around 18 km east of the Pacific Ocean and 280 ft above sea level. Today Leon has a population of approx 180,000 an architecturally interesting city center and is full of ancient cathedrals and colonial period homes. So here’s some reasons we think you’ll fall in love with León
1. A city loaded with Culture One of the 3 most prominent cities in Nicaragua León, is a culturally rich city. It has become an important industrial, agricultural and commercial center for the country as well as a historical colonial midpoint. There are more churches and cathedrals in León than anywhere else in Nicaragua. It is truly a culturally aware city with many influential artists, and home to various museums that are worth your visit.
2. Culinary Delights The majority of Nicaraguan culinary dishes date back to pre-Colombian times and are a mixture of interesting dishes and unusual ingredients. In León you will find a menu for any taste. From the fritangas located outside the mercado central or La Estacion serving anything from Chicken to beef to pork to the fancy restaurants located all over the city offering a variety of different menus.
León night life offers options for almost everyone. Dancing is definitely an essential part of the Nicaraguan culture and and there are several great clubs to choose from that offer chances for you to practice your Salsa or just groove the night away to the latest club beats. The Zona Rosa offers a uniquely Nicaraguan spirit to the bar scene. Every day of the week you’ll find trankilo crowds eating, drinking and dancing their way past bedtime.
3. Modern City León is the country’s intellectual hub and is home to the largest State run University in the country. (UNAN) Being a University town you will find there are a myriad of cafes and restaurants. There are also lots of great and inexpensive shopping opportunities around town like at the mercado central, La Estacion or grocery shopping at the Walmart owned La Union. León’s small but modern cinema is in the Plaza Siglo Nuevo shopping center and you can see first run movies for about $3. And Leon boasts a number of other attractions other cities can’t, one being the only place in the world where you can go sandboarding down the Cerro Negro Volcano
4. The Beaches Only 20 kilometers from León, there are two quaint beach villages situated right next to each other called Poneloya and Las Peñitas. Both towns offer a laid back atmosphere with a wide range of beach activities like swimming, surfing, or simply sunbathing or watching a magnificent sunset. The two towns are connected with a long stretch of wide sandy beach along the Pacific coast surrounded by a nice strip of hostels and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Both Poneloya and Las Peñitas attract surfers and beach lovers with their impressive small regular waves. If you are interested in learning to surf, one of these beaches can be a perfect choice to start.
5. The People
The citizens are warm and welcoming. Nicaragua has been experiencing an increase in tourism in the last few years as more and more people discover this “undiscovered” gem. With them now in the global spotlight the Nicaraguan people have openly embraced the interest that vacationers, expats, and investors have shown in their country. When you visit Nicaragua, you become a friend, not just another “gringo” Nicaragua is a country ripe and ready to embrace tourism. Leon’s rich history, friendly people and Nicaragua’s dramatic landscapes are waiting to be explored. The traveler to this quaint city and fascinating country will be rewarded with unforgettable memories and an authentic Latin american travel experience.