We’re LOVIN’ León!!!
Once you visit León, you will fall in love with Nicaragua. Its streets are filled with the history and tradition of the country. The colonial architecture of the buildings are an ever constant reminder of different moments in history, some to be mourned but most to be celebrated.
From the impressive Cathedral, now a UNESCO World heritage Site to the impressive views from atop of the Cerro Negro Volcano, León is a city for all sorts of travelers.
IN THE BEGINNING
Originally named “Santiago de los caballeros”,León, was the first capital city of Nicaragua. The original or “Old” León was founded in 1524 and was destroyed by an earthquake on January 11, 1610. Later that same year an eruption by nearby volcano Momotombo caused even more damage.
Shortly thereafter along came the Spaniards and they decided to move the city to its current location. Part of the rich heritage of León is the indigenous culture. The Sutiaba indigenous tribe was the most important population group in this area. Even after the colonization process of the Spaniards had begun, they refused to submit to the will of these “foreigners” and their new culture and many were killed as a result.Those that obeyed, were forced into labor for the conqistadors building many of the temples and buildings you see today. But unfortunately approximately half of the indigenous people in western Nicaragua died from the rapid spread of new infectious diseases carried by the Spaniards, such as smallpox and measles, to which the Indians had no immunity. The multi-ethnic mix of European and Native Indian “blending” produced a race of people called “Mestizos”. This is evident in the great majority of the dark skinned population in the country.
León also has the distinction of playing an important role in the political history of the country. Since 1979 León has been known as the “First Capital of the Sandinista Revolution”.
When it comes to Art & History, León again takes center stage, Rubén Darío a national hero who is considered “The prince of Castilian letters” and “Father of Modernism” spent his childhood in the city of León.Darío died on February 6, 1916, at 49, in León. His remains are buried in the The catedral-basílica de la Asunción. There is also an impressive museum in the city which is actually the preserved childhood home of the poet. Exhibits include his very first handwritten poem and other written works, his bible, photographs, as well as most of his furniture.
In addition to an impressive Cathedral, dozens of beautiful churches and eblematic history, León can also boast of great natural beauty.
There are several natural wonders for you to enjoy in León, such as the Asososca Lagoon located on the road to León Viejo. Another great natural wonder is the San Jacinto hot springs located in nearby Telica. This historical site is made up of a series of small craters where high temperature steam and gases are emitted like miniature volcanoes. A true natural delight is the Juan Venado Island Nature preserve, one of Nicaragua’s 77 protected areas and home to one of the largest ecosystems in the world.
Last but not least, one of the most favorite extreme sports in the world is located right here in León. Sandboarding will provide you with plenty of thrills as you first climb up to the top of the Cierro Negro Volcano and then slide down on a sand board. The experience is uniquely Nicaraguan.