Joy Square.

The city is a bulwark of the ecclesiastical architecture of America. Its sprawling urban perimeter is richly decorated by 16 beautiful Renaissance-style Christian temples.

In each neighborhood there is a church that is an architectural relic, of exquisite appeal for those passionate about history, culture and architecture. León is the only Latin American city with such a large number of churches and hermitages in a small perimeter.

The urban area of ​​the city of León, with 70 assets or places of heritage interest, was declared a National Historical and Artistic Heritage in 1983.

The houses of the historic center were built mostly with adobe and taquezal, they are an example of Nicaraguan vernacular architecture. In them you can see colonial porticoes, corner doors in lance with their characteristic wooden column, even balconies with important architectural structures.

The patrimonial and cultural protection and the recovery of the historic center of the city offer urban and architectural responses to our colonial past, as well as to the influences of styles and currents of contemporary architecture.

In the urban area and the historic center you can find:

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Leon Cathedral.

Leon Cathedralits full name is "Insigne y Real Basílica Catedral de la Asunción de la Buenaventurada Virgen María", it is the largest cathedral in Central America and one of the most beautiful in America. It was built between 1747 and 1816, it was elevated to the Major Basilica in 1860.

Its design is the work of the Guatemalan architect Diego José de Porres y Esquivel. Its plan is distinguished by a rectangular plan, similar to the cathedrals of Lima and Cuzco, in Peru. Its two 40-meter high towers and the façade are in the neoclassical style. It has five naves, 10 vaulted sections, and thick cross-shaped columns.

Its construction expresses the transition from the baroque to the neoclassical and its style can be considered eclectic, characterized by the sobriety of its interior decoration and the abundance of natural light.

It preserves important works of art, including a Flemish altar and the Renaissance frescoes that evoke the passion and death of Christ, the work of the Nicaraguan artist Antonio Sarria, from the late XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries.

The father of modernism in the Spanish language, universal poet Rubén Darío and the hero of Independence, Miguel Larreynaga, is buried in this temple.

Due to its artistic, cultural and historical value, it was declared a National Historic Monument on December 14, 1999 and elevated by UNESCO to the category of World Heritage Site on June 28, 2011.

In the company of a guide you can go up to the domed roof, to observe the city while you learn about religious architecture. You can take three guided tours, which are the domes, the basements and the prince's patio, each at a cost of two dollars for foreigners and 20 cordobas for nationals, do not miss this experience and take pictures in the place .

Municipal Theater José de la Cruz Mena_leon_arquitectura2Municipal Theater of León, José de la Cruz Mena: Inaugurated in 1885, it is the work of the Costa Rican Luis Cruz. It is a corner building with a rectangular floor plan, built in stone with two floors. The main façade combines colonial baroque lines with post-independence neoclassical lines. It has a maximum capacity of 948 people. It was declared a National Historical and Architectural Heritage by the National Assembly, on August 6, 1983.

San Juan Bautista de Sutiaba Church: It is the largest and most monumental after the Cathedral. Its main façade is made up of four entablatures that rise in descending order until they are finished off with a cross. It has numerous niches and attached columns that top it off, it has a Baroque-influenced frontispiece.

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San Juan Bautista de Sutiaba Church.

The central body is of a barrel running gabled, topped by presbyteries and minor chapels forming the position of a Latin cross. It has a bell tower that stands out to the right of the building. It was declared a National and Historical Monument on September 21, 1944.

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San francisco Church.

San francisco Church: It was founded in 1639, along with its convent located on its south side, a mixture of various styles, the front is eclectic, while the interior has a colonial-baroque style.

In 1830, due to expulsion from the religious order, the convent was used as the National Institute of the West, currently it is the El Convento hotel. The facade was rebuilt in 1960.

Recollection Church: Built in 1785, it is a remarkable building due to its height, structure and deep yellow color. The stonework façade has a Mexican Baroque style that blends in admirably and harmoniously with the bell tower. The altars are decorated in a neoclassical style. Its façade is baroque, it is covered with symbols of the Stations of the Cross.

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La Marced Park.

La Merced Church and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy: It was built in 1672, later it was demolished to raise the current church in the same place in the XNUMXth century. The tower was rebuilt at the end of the XNUMXth century. The interior was modernized at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. It is the only church that has its tower in a place other than the façade.

Its style is baroque harmoniously combined with the neoclassical façade and the colonial style of the southern part of the building. The medallions displayed on the façade reflect the influence of Mexican or Guatemalan architecture. It was declared Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Nation on February 15, 2012.

El Calvario Church: It is one of the most beautiful in Nicaragua, it was built in the early seventeenth century.

It has an extraordinary neoclassical façade, which together with its bright colors forms a visual finish at the end of the real street. His influence is Spanish and French. In 2000 it was equipped with an exterior fence to protect the temple.

Zaragoza_leon_arquitectura20 ChurchColonial religious architecture is predominant. It is the only church in León that has its main entrance facing north, facing the cathedral.

Zaragoza Church: It was built between 1884 and 1934. It is a mixture of different architectural styles with the presence of an eclectic and romantic style, a military character given by the jagged elements and the high side towers built with carved stone, which gives it an image of a castle.

At the same time, it makes use of pure classical elements such as the shafts and capitals of columns, architrave and cornices. Its floor plan is rectangular with four slopes, it has a central body and three naves, supported by tall chamfered wooden columns.

Other points of interest that you must visit

Religious tourism

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Church of San Felipe.

Do not stay without visiting the Church of San Felipe, located in the neighborhood of the same name, six blocks north of the city center.

The church covers a complete block that includes a wide front and side atrium with a large backyard, you can visit it on Thursdays of the Blessed Sacrament from 08:00 in the morning to 05:00 in the afternoon, observe and learn about architecture and art sacrum of the place.

I walked the Guadalupe Church, located in the Guadalupe neighborhood, from Central Park five blocks south. The first church was built in 1743 as a small hermitage, by Fray José Ramón Rojas de Jesús María and at the end of the XNUMXth century the current structure was built on the foundations of the first one, by Father José Francisco María Villami.

The church can be visited on Thursdays, the day of the Blessed Sacrament, from 08:00 in the morning until 05:00 in the afternoon, before the religious service.

Church of Guadalupe_leon_arquitectura9Visit the San Juan de Dios Church, located in the El Sagrario neighborhood, two blocks west of Central Park, was founded in 1685. This temple was declared a National Artistic Heritage in 1983, it is a beautiful place that invites you to take a tour of its interior, while observing the art sacrum and its architecture, in addition to participating in processions, prayers, purísimas, masses and others.

La San Juan Church, located in the San Juan neighborhood, from Parque Central four blocks to the north and two to the east. This church was built in 1625 and 1651, its origins were the nucleus of the town of San Juan Bautista de Naborías. Its last reconstruction was between 1850 and 1860.

La Laborio Church awaits you, located in the urban area of ​​Laborío, from Parque Central three blocks to the west and two to the south. She and her surroundings are considered one of the oldest in the city.

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Saint John Church.

Another architectural gem that you must visit is the Church Our Lady of Sorrows, located in the La Ermita de Dolores neighborhood, in Central Park, nine blocks to the north, four to the east. It was built by Fray Ramón Rojas de Jesús María.

Do not leave without visiting the San Pedro de Sutiaba Church, located in the Sutiava neighborhood, from Parque Central eight blocks to the west, one to the south; The small square, a characteristic example of colonial architecture, still preserves in front of the main entrance. Learn about its history and cultural interest, while you participate in religious activities.

Hermitage Church of Dolores_leon_arquitectura21The Harassment Fort: It is a military fortress, built in 1890 to protect the city and later used by the National Guard as a military base, jail and place of torture. The Sandinista fighters took it on July 7, 1979.

Being on top of a hill it has a strategic panoramic view of the city of León and its surroundings. The structure is rectangular that forms a simple spearhead. It has wide sloping walls that are used as trenches. It has entrances through vaulted corridors on one side. It was declared a National Historical Heritage on July 14, 1983.

Rubén Darío Archive Museum: This museum was founded in 1964 in the house where the poet lived during his childhood with his adoptive parents, Aunt Bernarda Sarmiento and Colonel Félix Ramírez.

Rubén Darío Archive Museum_leon_arquitectura22

Rubén Darío Archive Museum.

Here the largest collection of manuscripts and first editions of his books translated into English, French, Russian, German, Japanese, Italian and Chinese is kept, as well as documents, personal belongings and photographs of the poet in the different stages of his fascinating life.

Among the emblematic objects you can see the diplomatic suit that Darío wore when he was Nicaraguan ambassador to Spain, as well as a collection of banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Nicaragua with the effigy of Rubén Darío.

It is located one block west of the San Francisco Church, its hours of operation are from Tuesday to Saturday, from 08:00 in the morning to 05:00 in the afternoon, and on Sundays from 09:00 am to 04:00 pm.

Sutiaba ADIACT Indigenous Museum: They exhibit 200 pre-Hispanic ceramic pieces, stone sculptures and petroglyphs that were made and used by the native groups that inhabited the area between 300 a. C. and the arrival of the Europeans. The archaeological collection is a beautiful testimony of the cultures that have developed in the country and contributes to knowing and forming the national cultural identity.

The museum was founded in 1985 by the indigenous community of Sutiaba, who donated all of the goods, among which are more than 10,000 species with around 500,000 specimens that make up the collection of ceremonial vases, plates, glasses, comals, funeral urns , polychrome tripods, obsidian points, metates and mortars.

Its name is due to the great chief of Sutiaba who represents the rebellion and fight during the Spanish conquest.

It is located on the northeast side of the nursing home, 20 yards to the east, with opening hours from Monday to Friday from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm.

Calvario_leon_arquitectura24 church

Entomological Museum: It has an interesting and colorful rotating exhibition of species from Nicaragua and the world. More than 10,000 species and 500,000 specimens make up the collection: beetles, ants, spiders, praying mantises, scorpions, centipedes, fireflies, crickets, and other species.

Species from the different natural reserves of the country are frequently exhibited, sent to the museum by universities and other researchers. A varied collection of stones and snails from different parts of the world is also exhibited. Its founder and owner is Jean Michel Maes.

Sacred Art Museum Monsignor César Bosco Vivas Robelo: this museum stopped working for a few years, the ancient and representative relics of sacred art from the colonial era were transferred to the San Juan Bautista de Sutiaba Church, where they can be seen on Thursdays from 06:00 to 10:30 pm and Sundays, as well as the days that there are special religious services.

Inside the temple there is an important collection of religious images of different styles and periods, carved by the best artists of their time.

In addition to appreciating the temple, which is an indigenous jewel with historical and architectural value. It is located in the center of the city, a kilometer and a half to the west in the Sutiava neighborhood. It is open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 11:00 in the morning and from 02:00 to 04:00 in the afternoon, on Saturdays from 08:00 to 11:00.

Museum of the Revolution: presents a permanent exhibition of photographs, newspaper articles and personal stories, about the struggle of General Sandino, until the insurrectionary process in the city of León that ended with the triumph of the revolution in 1979. It also explains the political history of Nicaragua. It is located in front of the Central Park.

Ortiz Gurdián Foundation Art Center: It is located in several colonial buildings restored between 1999 and 2013 by the Ortiz Gurdián Foundation: the Norberto Ramírez House, Derbyshire, Delgadillo and the Deshón House, which make up the Art Center. The museum opened its doors in 2000.

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Poets Park.

Each building houses a different stage of exhibition of contemporary painting, sculpture, imagery and crafts. The pieces are loans from various art houses and are part of the exhibition of pieces by artists participating in the national art biennials; paintings of the Austrian school, Quito school and Cuzco school.

In the Casa Norberto Ramírez works of European art from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century are exhibited, in which engravings by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró and other avant-garde artists of the XNUMXth century stand out. Here is also the Sala Morales, with works by this Nicaraguan artist and Rodrigo Peñalba.

In the Derbyshire House you can see contemporary art from Latin America and in the Deshón House some winning works from the Nicaraguan and Central American biennials organized by the Ortiz Gurdián Foundation are exhibited. Finally, in the Casa Delgadillo there is a corridor with the works of the Praxis Group and two rooms with works by Central American artists.

Museum of legends and traditions Coronel Joaquín de Arrechavala: This unique museum, founded by Mrs. Carmen Toruño de García in 1993, focuses on 14 myths and legends with the respective and sinister characters that for generations have tormented the imagination of Nicaraguan children. The tour consists of stations of each of the scares of indigenous and colonial mythology recreated in figures and sculptures made by local artisans.

Its building is an old prison of the Somoza regime, built in 1921 and that is why it was called Jail La 21. You can still see some of the cells and the walls that protected it and the tank Aracely at its entrance.

It has five rooms, four of them show the legends, traditions, history and culture of the Leonese people and in general of Nicaragua. On the walls of the rooms you can see paintings about the different forms of torture that the National Guard practiced in this old prison.

It is located on the north side of the San Sebastián Church and is open from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 am. until 05:00 pm, and on Sundays from 08:00 am to 12:00 noon. It is important to remember that in most of the country public service sites close for lunch from 12:00 to 02:00 pm.

At Museum Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs You will be able to see a gallery of photographs, belongings and documents of different heroes and martyrs who gave their lives for the cause of the Sandinista popular revolution. It is located one block from Central Park to the north and 20 yards to the west.

You can also visit the Silvio Mayorga Museum which shows a series of photographs, a newspaper library, books and documents of heroes and martyrs of the municipality, located two and a half kilometers west from the center of the city in the Sutiava neighborhood.

Also visit the Diocesan Archive Museum considered the oldest documentary source in Nicaragua; Here you will find information dating from 1633 to 1945. It contains historical data on the religious-spiritual life and on some important figures of the city. It is located from the Central Park 80 meters to the east.

In the municipality you can take a tour of the city center and see various points that are adorned with beautiful works of art that enhance the municipality, get to know these murals that will tell you a little about historical events of great relevance in the municipality.

We recommend you to observe the Mural of the Mausoleum, located in the Central Park 50 meters to the north; the Mural of the Antenor Sandino House of Culture, located from Central Park one block to the west, one to the north and 80 meters to the west; the Mural del Edifico del Básico del 6% (UNAN- León), located two blocks north of Parque Central, and the Mural de la Casa Indígena de Sutiava, is from the center of the city a kilometer and a half to the west in the neighborhood of Sutiava.

To continue learning about the heroic history of this town, visit the Casa Buzón de Los Bervis Museum. Formerly a warehouse with an underground structure where they kept weapons that were used by the guerrillas in the different combats that took place in the city, it is located one kilometer and a half west of the city center in the Sutiava neighborhood.

Urban tourism

Central Park Juan José Quezada_leon_arquitectura6

Juan Jose Quezada Central Park.

Visit the Environmental Interpretation Center of the cityLocated from the park three blocks to the south, four to the east and one to the north, here you will learn about the conservation of the environment, participate in workshops where you will learn to reuse the products that we often discard. You can investigate the natural resources, observe the trees, the orchid and the nature trail.

Do not hesitate to visit el Botanical Garden (UNAN-León), located two and a half kilometers west of the city center, in the Sutiava neighborhood. This is an important environmental interpretation center, where you can find representations of different types of forests: dry forest, gallery forest and humid tropical forest.

Meet the Juan José Quezada Central Park, located in the city center in the El Sagrario neighborhood, next to the Cathedral. I walked through this park and appreciated the beautiful water fountain in its center, with the monument to Máximo Jerez turning his back on the Cathedral and four lions around it. It is a place where you can relax, meet the local population, enjoy the climate and taste the gastronomy if you wish, ideal to visit with family or friends.

Another park of interest in the city center is the San Juan Park, located from Parque Central four blocks to the north and two to the east. It is also known as Mothers Park since there is a monument in honor of them; It is a place where you can entertain yourself, read a good book, share with friends and for the little ones there are different games.

Don't forget to take a walk through it Los Poetas Park, located from Parque Central one block west. It is known as the park of the poets in honor of the exponents of poetry in León. Right there you will see four monuments to the three greatest poets after Rubén Darío, Salomón de La Selva, Alfonso Cortez and Azaria H. Pallais. This is a healthy recreation space that is highly visited by the population.

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Poets Park.

Also get to know other parks in León, such as the Guadalupe ParkSan Felipe ParkEl Calvario Park and La Merced Park, located in the urban area of ​​the municipality. In them you can have a good time in the company of family, friends or alone. They are frequent meeting points for the people of León to enjoy an afternoon, stroll around, rest on the benches, enjoy the traditional food of the municipality in a kiosk that sells food or drinks, and for the younger ones in the urban area find the modern Playground With games for children, you cannot miss this part of León.

In the same way the The Canyons of San Sebastián Park welcomes you, located three and a half blocks south from Parque Central. Here you will find the four representative canyons of the place. You can also go to Sutiaba Park, from the city center one mile to the west. It has a recreational space for children and a small kiosk for the sale of popular food.

If you like sports, do not hesitate to visit the Metropolitan Stadium Heroes and Martyrs of September, located from Parque Central seven blocks to the south, two to the east. You will have the opportunity to watch a game with the home team of the beautiful sport in Nicaragua and have fun with different activities that take place in this place.

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Rubén Darío Square.

El Victoria Field It is another option to practice and watch a good game of soccer or other outdoor sports, as well as cultural events.

The mall New Century SquareIt is from Central Park one block to the north and a block and a half to the east, where you will find movie theaters, fast food restaurants, souvenir sales, ice cream, coffee and internet.

Visit the Guadalupe Bridge, located three and a half blocks south from Parque Central. Here you will learn about the history that marked an event of urban significance in the municipality and allowed the conjunction of the old city with the neighborhoods south of the Chiquito River: Guadalupe and San Sebastián.

La Ruben Dario Square It is located on the Paseo de los Leones south of the city of León. The focal point of this square is the sculpture of acclaimed Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.

Cultural historical tourism

Meet the Stone Niche located in the El Patastule farm, Sutiava community, from the center of Sutiava five kilometers southwest. You can take a tour of this community and arrive at this site that keeps impressive remains that show the existence of indigenous settlements in the territory; It is said that these niches were used to place the gods inside at the time of the indigenous religious ceremony.

In Sutiava you can learn about León's past by taking an interesting tour full of history and culture, there you will find the Ruins of Veracruz, located a kilometer and a half west of the city center. Sutiava Parish, known in ancient times as Veracruz, was built in the second half of the XNUMXth century and has now been converted into a tiangue.

You can also visit the Ruins of San Andres, located one kilometer and a half west of the city center, it is one of the four hermitages that surrounded the parish of Veracruz.

Other options to know the religious history of the town are the Ruins of Santiago, located one kilometer and a half west of the city center. It was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century, here you will see this colonial architectural relic, it is the only one of the group that preserves elements of its structure, reflecting the local architectural evolution through the use of the half orange dome.

Also, visit the Ruins of San Sebastián, located from the center of the city a kilometer and a half to the west. Built in 1742 on a «Teocali» or natural aboriginal worshipers, inside an indigenous cemetery on the outskirts of the city, it is a place that you will love for its historical relevance; do not forget to visit the Cemetery Ruins, in the center of the city seven blocks to the south, this site was inaugurated in 1834 and erected by Dr. Francisco Mateo Lacayo. Interestingly, the León Cemetery is one of the most outstanding in the funeral field of Nicaragua.

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Chapel of the Assumption.

Visit the Chapel of the Assumption, and I got to know this architectural jewel of the municipality that adorns the city, preserves its neo-Gothic façade, the stained glass windows in its interior stand out, mainly those of the rose window on the main façade. It is part of the college of the same name and was built in 1679 by Bishop Andrés de las Navas y Quevedo, being used as the Episcopal Palace. Later it was occupied by the Mothers of the Assumption and in 1935 profound reforms were carried out that gave rise to the current appearance. It is located on the south side of Central Park.

El San Ramón School, with a symmetrical facade and Renaissance influence, it has been raised several times due to being destroyed by earthquakes. It was occupied by the UNAN León and has had seminary functions. Located from Central Park 50 meters east.

El city ​​Hall located in front of the Central Park and built in 1935, it was damaged in 1979 by the Somocista repression of the National Guard against the FSLN uprising.

Visit the Old Railway Station, located from Central Park four blocks to the north and four blocks to the east, inaugurated in 1882. It is one of the oldest in Nicaragua and the first in León.

El old Hospital its last stage was built during the government of Dr. Juan Bautista Sacasa and is currently the headquarters of the Ministry of Health. It is located from Central Park four blocks to the north, four to the east and eight blocks to the north.

Former Health House Debayle_leon_arquitectura1Another building of historical interest is the Former Debayle Health House, on two floors with the colonial architectural style of the Leon houses. It has several rooms for different activities, find out what life was like for this family in the Somoza era. Located from Central Park one block east one south.

Meet the Central Building of La UNAN-León, located from Parque Central two blocks north. You will find out why this city is called the "University City" and you will be able to participate in cultural activities every month, as visitors and the general population can attend them to enjoy the waste of art and talent of this town.

El Old Club Casa del Obrero located from Parque Central one block west, a block and a half north, it is a building built in the mid-twentieth century. The building became a historical symbol on September 21, 1956 when the poet and journalist from León Rigoberto López Pérez executed General Anastasio Somoza García with five shots. Learn more about this historical event by visiting the old Club.

Another place of interest in León is the Curate House of Sutiaba, showing the characteristics of early colonial architecture. Located one kilometer and a half west of the city center in the Sutiava neighborhood.

Visit the Former National Guard Barracks Building, located two and a half blocks south from Parque Central; In this historic building you will learn how the National Guard operated in the city of León, and right there you will see the Aracely tank, located three blocks south from Central Park, half to the west, symbol of the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship.

Learn about the Massacre of July 23 from 1959, through monuments dedicated to these UNAN-León students, who were assassinated by troops of the dictator Anastasio Somoza.


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