Masaya was one of the most populated indigenous provinces in pre-Hispanic times. It was made up of several towns located around the Masaya lagoon. Its first settlers who settled in this place were descendants of the Chorotegas, from Mexico, who emigrated approximately between 500 to 900 years after Christ.

Masaya in the Nahuatl language means "Place where there are deer" or "Mount that burns", according to the writer Eliseo Ramírez in his book: Indigenous and mestizo Masaya. Masaya is a symbol of dignity and resistance. It has preserved its culture and history, significant aspects of the local and national identity.

petroglyphs of Cailagua_masaya_cultura7

Petroglyphs of El Cailagua

One of the most important legacies, which is preserved in the same place, are the petroglyphs of El Cailagua, an evidence of prehistory, written in stone in the form of symbols and signs.

It is one of the few largest cave sites in the entire country. These ancient engravings relate the history and way of life of the first settlers of this area. On the walls of the natural channel of El Cailagua, an old stream that ends in the Masaya lagoon, you can see 114 engravings and images of amorphous, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures that were drawn by the natives before the Spanish conquest. For more information visit the Petroglyphs Interpretation Center of El Cailagua.

Our Universal Poet, Rubén Darío, when visiting the archaeological site wrote «Note that the aborigines who knead the mud and carved the stones of the maternal earth, possessed above all two things: the feeling of ornamental harmony, like the artists of the Ancient Greece and the feeling of the caricature and the monstrous and deformed, like the artists of Japan. His models were in the fauna itself. They carved a grinding stone, copying an armadillo for example and the handle of a jug is a lizard ».

Petroglyphs of Cailagua

Petroglyphs of El Cailagua

The indigenous people of Monimbó have managed to preserve this site, as the most important symbol of their identity.

Masaya emerged as a transit town between León and Granada, at the crossroads between the towns of Namotiva; from being a transit town, it became one of the most important indigenous peoples.

In 1819, the town of Masaya was elevated to the category of Villa de San Fernando de Masaya, its name is due to King Fernando VII; in 1839, it was called a city and in 1883 it was defined as a department.

In Masaya important battles were recorded during the National War in 1856, between the filibusters led by William Walker and the Nicaraguan and Central American patriotic soldiers, fighting with great courage, until they were forced to leave the city.

During 1907, notable citizens of Masaya invited the poet Rubén Darío to visit the city. Darío travels by rail and arrives in Masaya on December 7 of that year. A multitude of people from all social strata welcomed him, flowers were thrown from the houses, all the bells rang happily and the streets were adorned with palms and flowers. Mayor Manuel Muñoz, on the corner of the Social Club, handed him the keys to the city, declaring him "Guest of honor."

In 1912 Masaya was once again the scene of bloody fights during the so-called War of Mena; General Benjamín Zeledón's men were located in El Coyotepe and in the churches of Masaya to repel the North American invaders; and during the decade of the 70s Masaya stood out in the fight against the Somoza dictatorship.

In 1989, by decree law, Masaya was declared “Cultural Patrimony of the Nation” and in 2000 the National Assembly named Masaya “Capital of Folklore of Nicaragua”.

Masaya and its indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó, symbol of resistance and dignity

The inhabitants of Masaya, and especially those of Monimbó, are true artists of great imagination and color, creative artisans and great farmers. They were not subdued by the Spanish colony or by the Somoza National Guard. Monimbó was the first town to rebel when the Sandinista National Liberation Front began the offensive to win the liberation of Nicaragua, showing its ingenuity in manufacturing the first artisanal bombs to confront the Guard and covering its face with typical sieve masks. from Monimbó.

Masaya and Monimbó are "the cradle of the popular insurrection." Their greatest pride is their culture and identity.

Monimbó is the quintessential center for traditional trades and handicraft workshops. It is home to leather goods, wood crafts, vegetable fiber, textiles, handicrafts, cabinetmaking, gunpowder workshops, among others. The indigenous community of Monimbó maintains and preserves its living culture, inherited from its ancestors, which today is national pride. Likewise, they preserve and promote their traditional religious festivals and their cuisine based on corn.

Traditional dances and music from Masaya

The main couple dances performed to the sound of the marimba are: the dance of Las Inditas, El Mestizaje, Húngaras, Negras and Los Promesantes.

The dance of the Inditas de Masaya are young dancers adorned, a tribute of the people to the Nicaraguan woman belonging to that ancestral ethnic group. The dancers imitate the daily tasks and tasks of our women, while their soft movements and joyful flirtation reveal their femininity.

The dance of Negras has its origin in the indigenous celebrations in Monimbó, it is a dance performed by men dressed as women, who painted their faces in black so as not to be identified. Later they used masks made in gourd of jícaro or wood and painted them black, now they use fine sieve masks. The most important elements of the black dance are the Spanish fan and the mask.

Among the directors of Negras dance groups that have stood out throughout their history are: Alonso Montalván, Rigoberto Guzmán, Alfredo Montalván, Omar Calero, Horacio Palacios, René Chavarría, Bayardo Córdoba, Alí ​​Arista, Ramiro Bermúdez, Jairo Arista, Carlos centeno and Bayardo González.

The indigenous people of Monimbó, being despised by their women, turn this dance into a protest action against indigenous women and Spanish men. This dance is performed with the intention of paying promises for favors received, although some participate to keep the tradition alive and preserve it, because it is a dance inherited from their ancestors.

Dances that are performed in collectives to the sound of philharmonic bands: Torovenado, Agüizotes and Los Diablitos.

The Torovenado. Satirical dance that represents the cunning of the native before the oppression and dominance of the Spanish. In it, traditional pictures of the indigenous community of Monimbó and characters with bizarre costumes are presented as a mockery of what they represent.

El Torovenado is presented in honor of San Jerónimo, Patron of Masaya. The best known go out to walk the streets of the city on the last Sunday in October and the third Sunday in November.

Los Aguizotes. This cultural manifestation has its origins in our ancestors, and is related to indigenous beliefs, myths and ceremonies, later it was enriched by the traditions of Spanish stories and legends. It is a festive dance that takes place on the Friday before the Torovenado de Monimbó. Los Agüizotes costumes are a variety of costumes that represent characters from legends and Nicaraguan folk mythology: La Mocuana, El Cadejo, La Muerte Quirina, La Bruja, La Cegua, La Llorona, El Padre sin cabeza, La Vieja del monte and many more.

The dance of Los Diablitos. It is a very colorful collective dance. It has Spanish origin and began as a dance that enlivened the distinguished salons in the city of Masaya of the aristocratic society of the time. At the moment it is a very popular dance of the satirical genre, it is a mockery of the Spanish and their representatives.

Its members try to express the soul in pain of the afterlife and the punishment for having disobeyed God. Their costumes and colorful and showy outfits are striking.

La Marimba, the queen of Nicaraguan musical folklore

An instrument that has achieved national recognition. Marimba is a word that comes from the Bantu African language that means "sing." Monimboseños have the dexterity to execute the marimba and the ability to make them.

It is an instrument of African origin, which came to our continent through black slaves in the colonial period, approximately in the year 1700. The marimba has historically been linked to all social and cultural activities of our peoples. So we find it in all activities of a religious, folkloric nature, popular festivals and in concerts for marimba playing classical music.

Masaya has been a fertile land for great musicians, dancers, theater players, artisans, painters, poets, writers and makers of many traditions. Among the characters that stand out are: Don Polín Bravo, who, together with his small violin and guitar workshop, established a music school, from which prestigious musicians such as Marcelo Zúniga and Pedro González came out; Cirilo Delgado, notable violinist; Carmen Vega and Alejandro Vega Matus, composer and musician who left a great musical legacy and that is part of the nation's cultural heritage.

Juan Galán, one of the best marimberos in Masaya, traveled to many European countries and the world, one of his masterful presentations was made in the Red Square of Moscow, he played the National Anthem of Nicaragua with his marimba. He was worthy of many recognitions.

The Rondalla de Marimba Hermanos Palacios stands out with more than 130 years of tradition making, executing and dancing our indigenous Nicaraguan piano: the arc marimba.

Bayardo González, famous dancer from Negras de Masaya, who formed his Baile de Negras group, one of the most famous in the country. When maestro Bayardo González's group of Negras left, it was quite an event.

The artisan tradition of Masaya

In Masaya, micro, small and medium-sized artisan companies play a preponderant role in the economic, social and cultural dynamics of each of its municipalities. It can be said that it is the center of Nicaraguan crafts, its artisan market is the largest in the country.

The artisans work with wood, marquetry, leather, ceramics, stone, manila and cabuya hammocks, handicrafts, cabinetmaking and textiles. In the workshops in the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó, there you can share with the artisans and learn from their work. Visiting this place is recommended, don't forget it.

Other sites of interest

Monimbó Insurrection Ethnographic and Community Museum: inaugurated in 2008, it is located in the heart of the Monimbó neighborhood, from the Casa de las Damas Salesianas 1 ½ block east. Land of ancestors, traditions and struggle for the claims of indigenous rights.

It exposes the history, culture and life of this brave and heroic neighborhood that has fought to maintain its identity, keeping its ancestral roots and traditions.

The Archaeological and Historical Museum "Alejandro Dávila Bolaños" offers visitors a look at the pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary history of Nicaragua, illustrated with objects and photographs of the time. Located from Parque San Jerónimo, one block south.


Hammock Trade

Commander Camilo Ortega Saavedra House Museum. It functioned as a safe house for the FSLN and today personal objects and photographs of Commander Camilo and his comrades are on display. It is located in the Los Sabogales neighborhood, on the Masaya - Pueblos Blancos highway.

In the Mercado de Artesanías Cultural Center you can learn about and appreciate the cultural richness of Masaya; High quality shows are offered where the traditional and folkloric dance groups of Masaya participate, the best of the local crafts and gastronomy are also exhibited.

Masaya also has a Plaza de la Cultura, located in front of the Old Railway Station, where cultural activities are also carried out.

Commander Camilo Zapata_masaya_cultura_gal5

Commander Camilo Zapata


Urban tourism - cultural

From the moment you approach the city, you will appreciate Masaya's creativity; At the entrance of the city, in the roundabout, the Masaya Monument and its traditions with the town's patron saint and his dancers, welcome you.

It is a monument made through the mosaic technique, it measures 10.6 meters high and is made up of historical figures such as Los Diablitos, Las Inditas, Los Agüizotes and their patron saint San Jerónimo.

In the center of the city is located the Central Park of Masaya, an ideal place for the enjoyment of young and old. It is equipped with comfortable benches, platforms, lights, drinking water, children's games and others.

Visit the Malecón de Masaya that offers wonderful panoramic views towards the lagoon and the Masaya Volcano, a place of family recreation. The modern playgrounds will undoubtedly make children feel happy, as well as the ideal multipurpose sports court to practice your favorite sport.

And when it comes to sports, the Roberto Clemente Municipal Baseball Stadium awaits you. It is the official home of the local team "Las Fieras del San Fernando", you will be filled with joy and passion for this sport, listening to the fans, from the stands, supporting their team, while you watch a good baseball game. Currently under renovation.

Other options to enjoy the king of sports are the San José Baseball Stadium, the Elio Cuaresma Stadium, and for the little ones who cannot miss every Sunday in the children's baseball league there is the Carlos Alberto “Guaracha” Castellón Municipal Children's Stadium .

The Municipal Market is another point of interest that you can visit, here you can find various perishable products: fruits, vegetables and miscellaneous items. An area of ​​great attraction is the handicrafts area where pieces made by art are sold.

healthy areas of the municipality, which vary in styles and materials, and with affordable prices.

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Doll workshop

In addition, located two blocks east of Central Park, is the Mercado de Artesanías or Mercado Viejo, it was once a fort and refuge for Spanish soldiers, today it is a cultural center with various handicraft stores and restaurants.

You can also visit the traditional hammock workshops in the San Juan neighborhood. Here you can appreciate the step by step in its preparation and buy an excellent product made entirely by hand, without using electricity and with biodegradable materials.

Another point of interest is Genaro Pavón's Marimbitas Workshop. It specializes in making toy marimbitas and typical Masaya marimbas. It is located from the Four Corners one block to the south and one and a half to the east.

The House of Handicrafts is a center where young people from Masaya are taught to work in traditional handicrafts. Free courses are given on crafts in clay, wood, traditional toys and rag dolls. In addition, it has a beautiful showroom and sale of handicrafts.

Go to the Mayra Doll Workshop, located in Tiangüe de Monimbó 2 ½ blocks to the east. He is recognized for making dresses for dolls with typical Nicaraguan costumes. On this site, from the hand of the most experienced artisans, you can meet and learn about the most traditional crafts of the town: wood and paper masks, cloth dolls, pottery and painted clay, traditional toys, wooden miniatures, utilitarian wood. and guitarrilla are part of the pieces that you can see.

Masaya's nightlife is also an attraction for all visitors; in the center of the city there is a varied offer of discos, clubs, restaurants and bars that allow you to relax and especially dance to Latin or Nicaraguan music.

Panoramic of Masaya

Panoramic of Masaya

Historical tourism

El Coyotepe Fortress. Built in 1893 as a strategic site to observe from above the enemy who wanted to take the city. During the Somoza dictatorship it served as a prison and torture center for political prisoners. The site is currently managed by the Scouts Association of Nicaragua. It is open to the public to take internal tours, take pictures and learn about its history.

In addition, you can explore its surroundings, doing camping, trails, games and other activities, the latter is generally coordinated with tour operators who offer visits to the fortress or directly with the administrators. It is located at kilometer 28 on the Managua-Masaya highway.

The indigenous community of Monimbó, a prodigious place that saw the birth of characters who left their legacy of bravery and patriotism. Many relevant events occurred in history, go for a tour of its streets and most interesting places.


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