Granada was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Córdoba, named in honor of his birthplace in Granada, Spain.
In the seventeenth century, due to its geographic location, Granada suffered from constant pirate invasions and lootings. These invasions occurred in 1665, 1670 and 1685. In 1856, the city was set on fire and was almost totally destroyed by the followers of the Filibuster William Walker.
The reconstruction of the city started after the national war, colonial and neo-classic architecture prevailed in its churches, other buildings, and squares.
“Here Was Granada”
In 1665, a cosmopolitan Granada, with its churches, its cathedral, monasteries, and schools, suffered its first pirate incursion by Edward David. In 1666, it was again attacked and looted by the pirate Henry Morgan, the robbery was calculated in around half a million sterling pounds. Morgan and David must have seen Granada as a splendid city, big with its great cathedral, and many schools, and monasteries.
The historian, Gregorio Selser, wrote that on November 19, 1856 the filibuster Henningsen was preparing his troops to leave Granada. “Our boss, His Excellency, Mr. President William Walker, has given us the task to destroy this city (…) it has lost its right to exist and must be destroyed down to its foundations”.
On November 22, the filibuster Henningsen reported to the invader Walker. Mission Accomplished. Granada has stopped existing; a sign was left in garbled text with red letters on a piece of leather and in English “HERE WAS GRANADA”.
Located next to the western coast of Lake Nicaragua it has an excellent touristic and historical potential.
The same as the city of Leon, Granada has kept its colonial style, the interlaced mud roofing tiles on the ceilings of the homes dominate with a real colonial spirit.
You can relive those moments just by taking a horse pulled carriage ride from the Colon Park and enjoy the landscapes. Every Friday you can enjoy Serenade nights, the local gastronomy, and the festive atmosphere with music from different groups.
Located on the South flank of the “Parque Colon” or Central Park, as it is popularly known, is an urban space that expands unto the porch of the Municipal Palace where the Mayor’s office is located.
The adjacent buildings, define it as a space unit in the South and West flanks of downtown. Those buildings of Colonial and eclectic reminiscence differ from the Andalusia facade that identifies the Mayor’s building.
It was built in 1751 and after the burning of the city it was reconstructed in 1856 and repaired in 1873; the total reconstruction of the building was done in 1938.
House of Lions (Casa de los Leones)
This building is located in front of Lions Square on the East side, making for a very interesting and peculiar urban location.
The main facade of the building matches up harmonically with the rest of the outer porch. It was built between 1550 and 1562, and the first references to it were made in 1838, when the seventh Advanced Diego Jose Montiel and Coronado died in this house. It has been well-known in different stages of its history, first as The House of the Chains, then as the Advanced Montiel House, and finally as the House of Lions.
Jalteva Colonial Set
The houses are located on the South flank of Jalteva square; these houses have portico corridors that go through the South flank of the square.
The North flank is bordered by the Walls of Jalteva. The side of the Square is surrounded by houses of historic colonial construction. The multiple houses, the square, and the walls, define a unique urban and architectural composite of great value.
All the houses of the Colonial Jalteva Compound have a special history with a plantation home that enjoyed access to the colonial trains. Its specialty is described in the second half of the nineteenth century.
“Parque Colon”, also called Central Park, is located in the center of the city with the main street serving as a continuous axis connecting the Central Square with the old indigenous nucleus of Jalteva.
The Calzada Street connected downtown with the surrounding coasts of the Great Lake. It is surrounded by buildings relevant to different uses and was built in 1880 to replace the old Tiangue that occupied the center of the city square.
Cathedral of Granada
Although, Granada was not an Episcopalian headquarter, several important churches were built there, so much so that today they form an important part of the tourism this city has to offer.
In the seventeenth century a parish church was built, which afterwards gave way to the present Cathedral, located on the central square. Its facade is absolutely Neoclassical.
The front of the facade is made-up of a two-part roof of domes and lanterns. The first part of the facade has three niches, two entrances, and nine Ionic-style columns in-between. It has an arcaded courtyard and twelve Ionic-style columns, two bodies divided by double ledges, highlight the main entrance. It has three naves and their walls are constructed of concrete blocks and quarry stone.
The most important Baroque church in town is the “La Merced” church.
“La Polvora” Fortress
The Fortress is located at the end of the urban axis on Main Street, marking the city limit and closing the view observed from Parque Colon.
The fortress was built in 1784 to store gunpowder and protect it from the humidity. It was then that the construction started and it was originally called "La Pólvora" warehouse.
In its construction, there are two defined styles. First, the house that has a truly Colonial style. The second style consists of five towers around the wall, very similar to a medieval fortress. The front door has a neoclassic influence to it. The inner facilities are built with adobe, lime walls, and quarry stones; the floors are made of cement bricks and the ceiling of wood and Castile cane, covered with mud roofing tiles.
San Francisco Convent and Church
The San Francisco Convent and Church, founded in 1529, is the first church of the city and one of the most important colonial buildings in Central America.
This museum also lodges part of the monumental pre-Colombian statuaries of Nicaragua.
Other sites of interest are the Ceiba Church, and the Hotel with the same name, where activities such as fishing and spending the night under the starry sky, are available.
The Granadino Folklore
The Granada folklore has several expressions related to Catholic religious celebrations.
One of them is "El Atabal" unique and special because it has not been replicated in any other region of the country.
The Cartel (El Cartel)
The Cartel is a masquerade and carnival, but it is also festive dance, that takes place through the streets of the city.
One of the purposes is, to collect money for the religious celebrations of the Virgin of Asuncion, who is the patron of the festivities held on August 15.
These events occur shortly before the feast of the Conception of Mary in December. The participants wear all sorts of costumes, dance to the fireworks as bulls, and always elect a host (mayordomo) of the festivities.
The little Devils (Los Diablitos)
The Fuentes family lived in front of the north gate of the Market, where they were known as MICO.
The little Devils came out to dance every Sunday in October from their house. It was a kind of luxury Cartel. The masked men dressed with red velvet, shiny shoes, and fancy headdresses. They played the guitar, sonajas, and jucos. Dancing through the entire city, they were welcomed in all the main halls.
The Mare (La Yegüita)
A picturesque character by the name of Nicho Fajardo, aka Nacho Reseda, lived at the Farina family’s house. He was called Nacho Reseda because he planted two Reseda trees in front of his house.
Saint John’s day was a very bright and innovative celebration in Cuiscoma.
On June 24, Saint John’s day celebration, the mare would travel the streets of Granada surrounded by dancing Indians carrying offerings to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The Mare Dance (El Baile de La Yegüita)
This dance consists of common elements with other expressions throughout the different parts of the country.
A group of men carrying sticks with leather claws accompanies the Yegüita, they form two opposite teams, and each led by a supervisor as they fight to possess the Yegüita. (This dance and celebration is performed only in the small city of Diria).
The typical and traditional dish in Granada is the Vigoron, made with Yuca (Cassava), Chicharon (fried pork skin), cabbage salad, and other spices.
Visitors can enjoy it with a refreshing and tasty Chicha de Maiz (fermented corn drink) or Cacao, served at the city kiosks in Central Park and the Municipal Market.
The gastronomy of the city is very rich in its traditional dishes associated with the celebrations of Easter and Lent, especially when those dishes are the famous Turtle or Iguana Pinol, and Rice with a fish called Gaspar, you can find them all over the city.
Fried fish is also very popular because of the Great Lake located near the city and you can find it in most all restaurants in town.
In Granada you can find small stores that sell different types of local homemade sweets and candy made from fruits and milk, like: piñonates, leche de burra (donkey’s milk) and frutas en miel (fruits in honey). Granada has always been well known for its culinary
abilities and desserts.
Granada and its Towns
A historical destination, land of General José Dolores Estrada, was called "Nandaiyme", located in front of the Zapatera Island.
The urban developments of Spanish style, with its formal and solid catholic church, buildings of the same structure, were destroyed by an eruption of the Mombacho Volcano. Fray Alonso Ponce, said this eruption occurred between 1524 and 1544, and although the journalist Juan Lopez de Velasco said it happened in 1570.
Belongs to the Chorotegas or Mangue people, its origins come from the first Mexican migrants, on the banks of El Cerrito (Small Mountain) "La Flor", a magical town full of legends. Tourists can visit St. Peter's Church, and see the Yegüita dance and the dance of the Blackmen of San Pedro during the festivities of witches and healers. You will also want
to visit the mythical Lagoon of Apoyo.
"Town of Witches" it is located 48 kilometers from Managua, close to the slopes of the Mombacho Volcano, a quiet and mysterious town, full of healers and hardworking women who prepare the famous “Chicha Bruja” (Witches Brew). The major religious festivity honors the Virgin of Candelaria in February.
Visit Mombacho’s majestic peak overlooking Granada. This natural reserve has more than 90 species of orchids and a unique type of Salamander (Bolitoglosa Mombachoensis) only found in this exceptional volcano area.
Among clouds and an ecosystem of small forests and cloud-covered jungles, you can enjoy the path of El Sendero del Quemado, which leads to the natural beauty of 450 flora and 175 fauna species, among them: palms, giant ferns, bromeliads, aroids, orchids, and the volcano’s fume fields.
Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve is located 18 kms south of Granada, varying in height between 850 and 1,345 meters. This dormant colossus dates back to the Quaternary volcanic era, located on the volcanic chain of the Great Tectonic Depressions in the Pacific Central Region of Nicaragua.
You can also take a boat ride through “Las Isletas”, a unique and awesome archipelago of 356 islands of volcanic origin, all of different shapes and sizes and most privately owned. The lake is famous for its sweet water sharks, and the islands contain countless bird varieties.
La Isla Zapatera (The Zapatera Island)
Located south of Granada and of volcanic origin, is the island called Zapata. The Zapatera Archipelago National Park highlights the countless flora, fauna, and pre-Columbian rock art.
La Isla del Muerto (The Island of the Deceased) is a pre-Columbian sanctuary containing a huge variety of statues and pottery crafted by the Indian tribes living there.
Other important destinations:
• More than 300 Islands/keys
• Asese Bay
• Reserves: The Crater, Plan de las Flores, Cutirre, Pichicho, and Charco Muerto.
• Natural Reserve Laguna de Apoyo (3,500 Acres)
• Charco de Genízaro and Paso de Panaloya.
• Cloud-covered forests and wildlife on the Mombacho.
• Birds thriving on the Lagoon and Island of Mecatepe. A 1,200-acre National Refuge for Migratory Birds.
• The Natural Manares River Reserve (1100 acres) feeds a system of wetlands, fish, and bird refuge.
• Bird watching in the Charcos de Genízaro.
• The Great Lake fish.
• Archipelago Zapatera National Park.
• Large Island in the islands and the Monkeys’ Island located at the entrance of the channel.