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Central America León (Nicaragua)

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León was founded in 1524 on a place of Indian village Imabite, very near volcano Momotombo (big thundering peak). About a hundred years later (1610) the inquiet Momotombo caused a devastating earthquake that razed León to the ground. The ruins of the old city stayed buried under the soil for many years (until „rediscovered“ in 1967 and opened to tourism). New León was moved and built on a different place, not far away. Today it is a beautifully scuffed colonial city and in my opinion the most beautiful one in Nicaragua. Momotombo keeps being uneasy and the only Nicaraguan volcano without a cross over its crater. To „baptize“ the volcanoes was an old Spanish tradition, however, it is said that from Momotombo´s peak no priest returned ever alive...
What here: León has the biggest cathedral in Central America. The construction took over 100 years. Masive but somewhat simple from outside, guarded by lions carved from stone, the cathedral offers magnificent views from its rooftop (40 c). You will find many pretty churches, cafés and parks hidden in the streets of León. Fruit and food market is just behind the cathedral and other stands with local cuisine (do not expect much) can be found on the main square.
You can make a one day trip to playas Poneloya or Las Peñitas on the Pacific coast (big waves). Buses leave from near the church San Juan Bautista de Subtiava, about 1 km walk from the main square (1 hour, 15 c). You can also visit old León or a rum factory (by the way Nicaraguan „Flor de Caña“ is definitely national pride...proved personally, over and over)

Where to stay:
La Casona Colonial.
 Small familiar hotel in a colonial style and with a beautiful garden full of flowers (and hummingbirds) stands perhaps a little further from the center, but is definitely worth it. The owner is very friendly and helpful.
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Price: 20 USD for double. Park San Juan half a block West #210, Tel: (505) 2311 3178, casonacolonialguest@hotmail.com

How to get here: If you are coming from Granada, you need to change bus in Managua. Other buses come from Chinandega or Estelí. Tica bus (from Honduras) leaves you at the gas station from where you need to get a cab to the city center (about 5 USD per cab).