The city of Leon, whose original name is Santiago de los Caballeros de León was founded on June 19, 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, near the Indian village of Imabite and on the shore of Momotombo volcano. In 1610, due to strong earthquakes and an enormous eruption of Momotombo volcano the city had to move to its new location, the current, next to the indigenous people of Sutiava. The eruption of the Momotombo volcano, which killed much of the population of the city, the memory of León Viejo, where today you can visit the ancient ruins left.
Although less populated than Managua, León has been the intellectual headquarters of the nation, with a university founded in 1813, the last founded in America before independence and was the largest in Central America for a full century still. León is also an important industrial center and trading Nicaragua.
Until the appointment of Managua as capital of Nicaragua, León rivaled Granada for this representativeness. And he is proud to have been the first Capital of the Revolution.
It is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Central America and has two monuments declared World Heritage. The city of León Viejo and Leon Cathedral.
The main attraction of the city of León is its rich architectural heritage.
It is well known for its varied religious architectural heritage and its numerous churches.
First, the most famous World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is the Insigne and Real Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Cathedral of Leon. Typical colonial baroque building was built between 1747 and 1814, the towers are neoclassical style and is very well preserved. Due to the robustness of its walls has held up well several earthquakes, volcanic eruptions of the volcano and Cerro Black wars. In 1824 several guns were placed on its roof during the siege of the city by conservative forces in the uprising of June and July 1979 against dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle was also theater of war. This cathedral is the largest in Central America. It was the first episcopal seat of Nicaragua, since 1531, so it is one of the oldest dioceses in America. In it the tomb of poet Ruben Dario is at the foot of the statue of San Pablo, father of modernism and considered Prince of Castilian letters. In its crypts, designed to withstand earthquakes, they are buried some famous people of the nation like poets Salomón de la Selva and Alfonso Cortés; the hero Miguel Larreynaga and musician Jose de la Cruz Mena.
The church of San Juan Bautista Sutiaba is considered the largest church after the cathedral of Leon and is also of great architectural interest. It was begun in 1698 and completed in 1710. During the Central American war, in 1844, was destroyed the dome atop the tower and had to be rebuilt in the early twentieth century.
The church of San Francisco, part of the convent of San Francisco, one of the oldest in Nicaragua, founded in 1639 by Fray Pedro de Zuñiga. With a renovated facade late nineteenth, inside it conserves two good examples of plateresque altars.
El Calvario Church, urbanistically interesting for its spatial distribution, this church dates from the first half of the eighteenth century, although it was modified in the north tower in the twentieth century.
The ruins of the San Sebastian Church, built in the late seventeenth century as a chapel of the Cathedral and was one of the first religious buildings in the city. It rebuilt in the late eighteenth, Colonel Joaquin Arrechavala. It was bombed during the taking of León by airplanes of the Nicaraguan Air Force in 1979 and was easily destroyed adobe unlike other churches, which, being built of brick and stone quarry, endured the fighting.
Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of La Merced. It is the temple where they worship Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of the city. Church and convent of La Merced was one of the first buildings to be traced and built at the new site in the city of Leon. The present church which houses the Shrine of Our Lady of La Merced, is the third built on the same site which is then set the transfer of the city of Leon in 1610. To build it was necessary to demolish the old church. Surely that occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century. On the present church of La Merced, Diego Angulo Iñiguez, in his “History of Hispano-American art” written between 1945 and 1950, he tells us that: “After the cathedral, the most important Baroque church preserved, is surely one of the Merced also in Leon. It knows that the construction was under the direction of Maestro Pascual Somarriba, who according to Julio Valle-Castillo, in his book “La Catedral de León of Nicaragua”, may also have led the construction of the present Cathedral of León, which began in 1747. Temple plans were prepared by Friar Pedro de Ávila Mercedario. This friar Pedro de Ávila came to Nicaragua in the year 1766, “right-handed architect for the present cathedral of Leon”. It must be said that the present church of La Merced, is the only one in Nicaragua presented its bell tower outside the front line, which suggests that it was built later. Seismic and volcanic activity in the area in the mid-nineteenth century, caused severe damage to the tower, which is why it had to be rebuilt at the end of the century. The work was conducted by Father Pompilio Peña, Spanish priest, during his time in front of the temple of La Merced. The tower now has two bodies and copings lines sobrias.Por ministerial agreement, adopted on 7 July 1983 and published in the Journal Barricade edition No. 1415 of July 17, 1983, declared the Sanctuary of La Merced, along with other buildings in the city of Leon, National Artistic Heritage. And the February 9, 2012 he was declared a Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Nation by Law No. 782.
Other buildings of interest in Leon:
The Municipal Theater Jose de la Cruz Mena: Located one block west of Central Park is the old Municipal Theatre was built by the members of Leonés Ateneo in 1885 and refurbished a few years of damage caused by fire makes. It is interesting to visit and know the interior they will move to the beginning of the last century.
University: Although issued by the city in different locations and educational classrooms, the main building is adjacent to the ilesia La Merced and is the oldest of them all. Although it was rebuilt in the middle of the last century, it maintains its colonial air and worth a visit. As a historical note, it should be noted that during the Sandinista revolution, this building was where was formed a few days before the triumph in Managua, the Provisional Government of National Salvation.
Leon markets: There are three major markets in the city. Central Market, which is located behind the cathedral, is where you can live the experience of visiting a popular market and meet the bustle of the Nicaraguan daily life. The second market, located next to the church of San Juan, near the old railway station, has a good business and provides much of the city. The third, located next to the bus terminal Coyolar neighborhood is the smallest of the three, although it is well stocked and you can find any products. There is also another well-stocked market Sutiava.
The old railway station: Located near the church of San Juan, the railway station is worth visiting for its architectural interest, but is degraded by the passage of time and is a remnant of its former self. Nicaragua have stopped train in the early 90s during the UNO government of Violeta Chamorro.
Ruben Dario Archive Museum: Located near the Colegio La Salle, in the house where the great poet grew up with her aunt Bernarda Sarmiento and Colonel Felix Ramirez. In the museum you can visit the writer’s personal belongings and house, as well as antique furniture and various objects. Curiously it goes out there and meet some Nicaraguan history of the previous century.
Art Museum Foundation Ortiz-Gurdián: Located one block north of the Museum Ruben Dario Archive. It can be visited various artistic works of great masters of Baroque and Renaissance. The museum occupies two Leon colonial houses of architectural interest and was founded in 1996 by Ricardo Ortiz and Patricia Gurdián.
The city of León is known for its various festivals and relevance in the life of Leon for them, since the entire city to celebrate overturns.
The most famous celebrations is that of the crying, which is in honor of the Conception of the Virgin Mary and begins at 6 pm on December 7, in which the city is full of people from all corners of country. During the holidays most families in the city exhibit several altars to the Virgin on their doors and windows. Which they are visited by people shouting “Who causes so much happiness?” what the homeowners respond “Conception of Mary!” and they give you a gift.
Throughout the month of December will repitidiendo celebrations or the “purest” although the day the important celebration is the Gritería.
On 14 August a replica of the crying, called Gritería Chiquita held.
Other festivals celebrated in the city are:
The feast of La Merced, the day the city of Leon celebrates its patron saint, on 24 September.
The feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, on 12 December in the Barrio de Guadalupe. Where an offering of fruit is done in the temple with people dressed as did the natives before the conquest.
The feast of St. Jerome, on 29 and 30 September in which the image of the saint is moved from the cathedral to Sutiava amid a mulitutd.
Easter: It is very popular among Nicaraguans from all over the country who come to the city to participate in the many celebrations that occur.
Red Cross: 23112627
National Police: 23113137
HOW TO GET?
Reach León from Managua is simple. The fastest way is with the new road to León, which will take you directly to the city of Leon. If you want to do it by bus, also from Managua, you must go to Mercado Israel Lewites, from where buses steadily toward the city of Leon or looking for transport minibus leaving the stop UCA.
Coming from the north or center of the country, the most feasible way to reach León is done from the Pan American Highway to the junction of San Isidro, where you must grab the road to Leon.
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