Granada: A Colonial city
Located on the shore of Lake Cocibolca, Granada is a Nicaraguan colonial city that with its streets and architecture takes us back to the past. Founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, it was one of the major European cities on American territory and is now one of the most touristic cities in the country. As one of Nicaragua’s tourist destinations, the city of Granada sells itself, and everybody falls in love with its colonial houses and streets. But besides that it offers its guests plenty of places full of history, art and culture. Granada Tourism Sightseeing in Granada is very easy; there are a large number of tour operators offering a tour of the city and its surroundings. For its part, the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR) also provides information offices with places you could visit. Five star hotels and affordable hostels are available throughout the city. Also this corner of Nicaragua is characterized by specialty restaurants that serve food such as French, Italian, Spanish or Chinese, and especially typical Nicaraguan food. The great majority of these sites are on “La Calzada” (The Roadway) the living center of the city; night or day, this street offers a party atmosphere with hotels, bars and restaurants offering a culinary tour of the world and music for all tastes. Without a doubt the main tourist attraction of the “Gran Sultana” (Great Sultan), as this city is called, are its five colonial churches that besides offering religious services offer museums, religious art and even panoramic views of the city. The Cathedral Church of Granada, located in front of the central park (Parque Colon), is the symbol of the city. The style is distinguished starting with the neoclassical facade and inside the temple there are four fully active chapels. Although it was finished in 1583, it has received big hits on its infrastructure and it has been renovated several times. The most significant damage was in 1856 when William Walker (American mercenary) with his filibusters destroyed it completely. A striking light blue paints the neoclassical facade of the San Francisco church. Like almost everything in Granada, this temple has the scars of history of war and intervention; destroyed three times, it has suffered extensive renovations that have turned it into a combination of neoclassical and in its interior, modern romance. Next to this church is the Museum of the San Francisco Convent that house permanent and temporary exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, a model of the city, popular religious imagery and archaeological pieces dating from the year 300 AD such as clay pots and idols of stone that have been rescued and restored. Most of these pieces come from the Zapatera Island located on Lake Cocibolca which is very close to the city. In the center of the city is the church of La Merced, its construction began in the mid sixteenth century therefore still belongs to the Baroque style and in one of its sides has a bell tower. Because of its height, the tower gives a panoramic view of the city, Lake Nicaragua, the small islands in the lake, and the Mombacho volcano. To the east of Granada, facing the lake stands the Church of Guadalupe, built by Fray Benito Baltodano in 1626. Its facade reveals the passing of time, which makes it a relic. With history on its walls in the west of the city is the Church of Xalteva, its name is taken from the indigenous community that was located there before the arrival of the Spanish, which is an evidence of the imposition of the Catholic religion in the country. It was built in the middle of the colony and due to its strategic location it was used as a military fort on several occasions such as the National War which occurred between 1856 and 1857 during which it was destroyed. The latest reconstruction of the temple was completed in 1921. Still in Xalteva, on one side of the church are located the Xalteva walls, these are the ruins of the old division that was made at the time of the conquest, by one side, toward the lake was the colonists of the city and on the other side, overcrowded, was the now extinct indigenous community of Xalteva. To the west, near the end of the Real de Xalteva Street, lays “La Polvora” (The Gunpowder), a fortress built in 1748 to defend the city from pirates. The building was constructed in a pentagon shape and the five towers located on each side were used as the center of punishment in different wars and dynasties. Now this place just keeps some ancient artifacts that serve to recall the story. Beyond the religious belief that you can profess to get to Granada and not do the tour through the churches would be a real “sin.” The architecture of the facades and interiors, plus the history hidden in its walls is a journey back to the past that you can only enjoy in Nicaragua.